Brazil's ANP Qualifies Two More Companies for Oil, Gas Auctions

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil's National Petroleum Agency, or ANP, said Friday that two more names have been added to the list of oil companies approved to participate in a much-anticipated auction of oil and natural gas exploration concessions next month.

Brasoil Manati Exploracao Petrolifera Ltda and Gran Tierra Energy do Brasil Ltda., the local unit of Calgary-based Gran Tierra Energy, brought the number of companies approved for the auction to 66, the ANP said. The ANP had said 71 companies had submitted paperwork to qualify for the auction.

The fresh round of bidding is 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.

The 11th bidding round will put 289 oil and natural gas exploration blocks up for sale on May 14-15, Brazil's first such concession auction since December 2008. The auction is the first of several sales of exploration acreage set to take place in Brazil this year, including the first sale of subsalt exploration acreage under new production-sharing agreements.

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. 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., are also expected to be sold this year.

Many of the world's largest oil companies from 18 different countries have been cleared to participate in the auction, including Exxon Mobil, Chevron Corp. and BP PLC. Brazilian state-run energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro, or Petrobras, entrepreneur Eike Batista's OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes and startup HRT Participacoes em Petroleo also have been approved.

Companies were also required to submit financial guarantees for potential bids to the regulator by Friday.

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


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