RIO DE JANEIRO--Brazilian oil startup HRT Participacoes em Petroleo SA (HRTPY, HRTP3.BR) said Monday that it discovered natural gas in a well in the remote Amazon jungle region where it holds an operating stake in a number of exploration blocks, calling the find one of the best the company has made in the area so far.
The 1-HRT-9-AM well contains some of the "best characteristics" compared with what the company has found in its previous five natural gas discoveries in the Solimoes Basin, a remote area of the Amazon where HRT holds a 55% stake in 21 exploration concessions. TNK Brasil, a subsidiary of BP PLC's (BP, BP.LN) Russian joint venture TNK-BP Ltd., holds the remaining 45%.
HRT has had a fair amount of drilling success in the area, but there remain substantial questions about how the company will monetize the natural gas discoveries. The isolation of the area makes getting natural gas to market a logistical challenge.
Despite the potential of HRT's Amazon discoveries and the company's portfolio of offshore exploration blocks in Namibia, investors have bailed out of the company's shares. HRT's shares are down nearly 80% over the past 12 months. In recent trade on the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange, HRT was up 2.5% at 4.12 Brazilian reais ($2.04).
HRT is still in the preoperational phase, with plans to drill two more wells in the Solimoes Basin this year. The company expects to drill its first offshore well in Namibia by end-2012 or early 2013. HRT expects to invest $207 million in the second half of 2012 and an additional $250 million in 2013 on exploration activities.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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