Chinese integrated oil company CNOOC Ltd. pulled out of an auction of oil and natural gas exploration concessions in Brazil, the country's National Petroleum Agency, or ANP, said Tuesday.
ANP officials gave no reason for the company's withdrawal. CNOOC officials were not immediately available to comment. The ANP had approved 64 companies for the auction, the country's first since 2008.
The ANP is offering 289 oil and natural gas exploration blocks for sale at 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 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 Corp., Chevron Corp. and BP. 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.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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