Brazil's ANP to Hold Oil Bid Rounds for Small, Medium Producers

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil's National Petroleum Agency, or ANP, plans to target small and medium-size oil producers with annual auctions of marginal oil and natural-gas concessions, the regulator said Monday.

ANP said that the auctions will feature concession blocks in mature basins that have been widely explored, as well as inactive fields containing "marginal accumulations" of oil and natural gas. The ANP, which didn't give a preliminary date for when the auctions would start, said that it would establish criteria to determine which companies could participate.

The auction is another step forward for oil and natural-gas exploration in Brazil after it halted the sale of concession auctions amid an overhaul of local regulations.

The ANP is scheduled to hold its 11th-round auction, the first since December 2008, on May 14-15. The fresh rounds of bidding are expected to generate a surge in activity across Brazil's oil industry, which was running out of areas to explore in the absence of concession auctions. Oil companies had warned that exploration could dry up as soon as 2015 without new sales of exploration acreage.

Brazil's first auction of subsalt exploration acreage under new production-sharing agreements has been preliminarily set for Nov. 28-29. Billions of barrels of oil have been discovered in the subsalt region, where oil and natural gas were found trapped deep beneath the ocean floor under a thick layer of salt.

The subsalt bid round would be followed by the sale of unconventional oil and natural-gas concessions, the same type of shale and tight-gas acreage that sparked an oil-industry revolution in the U.S., on Dec. 11-12. The unconventional concessions wouldn't be included in the auctions for small and medium producers, the ANP said.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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