Jan 20 (Reuters) - The heads of state of Brazil, Guyana and
Suriname this week will take the first steps toward forging an
infrastructure that would better share the neighboring South
American countries' energy and natural resources.
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro is expected to arrive in
Suriname on Thursday, and will travel on Friday with the head of
Suriname to Guyana, where the three chiefs plan to discuss
projects including new roads, bridges and energy projects that
could reshape the region's economy.
The visit is Bolsonaro's first official trip to Guyana and
Suriname, and a recognition of the three countries' shared oil
and gas bonanza.
Among the topics for discussion: a 1,500-kilometer
(930-mile) road from Brazil's Northern Roraima state to a
potential deepwater port in Guyana; and a 1.2-kilometer bridge
across a river separating Guyana and Suriname.
Electric transmission and fiber optic communications links
also are contemplated as part of an energy corridor between the
The proposed interconnection would involve some $800 million
in projects. First pieces were set to start in 2020 and were
delayed in part by the coronavirus pandemic. The projects are
expected to be funded with private investment through government
concessions, according to Brazil's Infrastructure and Industry
The $200 million port Guyana is seeking investors for could
emerge as a key project to bring the three nations together. It
would be able to handle imports and exports of oil-industry
heavy equipment, grain and container ships.
"The deepwater harbour is a major part of our transformation
agenda, and we want Brazil to be part of it," Guyana Foreign
Secretary Robert Persaud told Reuters on Wednesday. "Guyana
offers the shortest and quickest access to the Atlantic for
significant parts of northern Brazil."
The energy corridor could also include an ambitious
3,000-megawatt power interconnection between Guyana, French
Guyana, Suriname and Brazil. The project, called Arco Norte and
drafted with the Interamerican Development Bank, is on the
has been the scene of the world's biggest offshore discoveries
in years, with 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas
confirmed since it began production in 2019 through a consortium
led by Exxon Mobil Corp.
Suriname also could inaugurate soon its first oil from an
offshore basin shared with Guyana and Brazil, where Petrobras
is preparing to drill this year the first of 14
planned wells, part of a $2-billion exploration budget in the
Equatorial Margin through 2026.
(Reporting by Neil Marks in London, Ank Kuipers in Paramaribo
and Sabrina Valle in Houston; writing by Marianna Parraga
Editing by Marguerita Choy)