"Formalizing these contracts will allow exploration to begin in the area from the Chaco [in the northwest] to the eastern part of the country," Ruiz said.
At August 2003 the country only had 40,000ha under concession in a single contract.
"We have asked each company to inform us about which entity is giving them economic and financial aid," he said. Companies giving such assistance include Williams de Broe PLC, Thorpe-Beestom Investment, and Mindley Investment, he added. UK-based CDS Oil & Gas recently formed a joint venture with local company Cano Martínez and is providing financial assistance for the Paraguayan company.
CDS has also expressed interest in partnering with Morrison Mining for an exploration concession on the Boquerón block. Other companies to sign agreements include Paraguay Gas, Boreal Petróleos, Aurora Petróleos and Amerisur.
"Those are all local companies with foreign agents," Ruiz said. Foreign companies that will sign agreements include HA & ER Exploraciones, Pilcomayo Petróleos, Hidroener Consultora, Guaraní Exploration, and Union Oil, with technical and financial assistance from Brazil's BOYG and Andrade Gutiérrez.
The ministry recently recovered all of the original information related to 18,000km of seismic shot by US companies that had explored Paraguay for 40 years, as well as data on 24 wells, Ruiz said. "That [information] is highly valuable - mostly for technical reasons, but also for economic ones because it is work that does not have to be done again," he said.
Recovering the data will allow companies to begin work, he added. "That new information will be freely provided to each of the companies, making the sector more attractive and possibly increasing the number of companies interested in investing in the country," he said.
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