Hydrocarbon exploration firm Apache and French energy firm Total have made an oil discovery in an area off the coast of Suriname.

The discovery at Maka Central-1 well on Block 58 offshore Suriname has encountered 73m (240ft) of oil pay. The companies also encountered 50m (164ft) of light oil and gas condensate pay.

Apache operates and owns a 50% working interest in the block, while Total holds the remaining 50% interest.

The drillship Noble Sam Croft drilled Maka Central-1. The companies have tested it for the presence of hydrocarbons in the upper Cretaceous-aged Campanian and Santonian intervals.

Both firms have said that they are planning further appraisal.

Total Exploration senior vice-president Kevin McLachlan said: “We are very pleased with this first significant oil discovery, made just after our entry into Block 58. The result is very encouraging and proves the extension of the prolific world-class Guyana Cretaceous oil play into Suriname waters.

“We are optimistic about the large remaining potential of the area still to be discovered and will test several other prospects on the same block.”

The next drilling campaign will take place on the Sapakara West-1, which is approximately 20km southeast of Maka Central-1. This campaign will test the same-aged upper Cretaceous intervals in a distinct stratigraphic feature.

Apache president and CEO John Christmann said: “The well proves a working hydrocarbon system in the first two play types within Block 58 and confirms our geologic model with oil and condensate in shallower zones and oil in deeper zones.

“Preliminary formation evaluation data indicates the potential for prolific oil wells. Additionally, the size of the stratigraphic feature, as defined by 3-D seismic imaging, suggests a substantial resource.”

Last month, Total signed an agreement with Angola’s state-owned company Sonangol to acquire interests in two blocks in the Kwanza Basin, offshore Angola.