The ministry called for pre-qualification bids on September 28, a ministry spokesperson told BNamericas.
The ministry will call for bids on the contracts on November 11, newspaper La Hora quoted energy and mines minister Eduardo López as saying.
The ministry is offering companies service contracts instead of the shared management contracts originally envisaged by the government because congress has not approved a hydrocarbons reform bill allowing the new kind of contract. "While there is no reform to the law, I will use the law we have," López said.
The production in the Shushufindi, Lago Agrio, Culebra-Yulebra and Auca fields currently operated by Petroecuador has declined in recent years due to lack of investment and the government wants to attract foreign investment to boost production.
The contracts will be to carry out and interpret 2D and 3D seismic, mathematical simulations, certify reserves, drill wells, recondition existing wells and generate electricity, among other activities.
Investments are estimated at US$322mn and the idea is to increase production by 43,500b/d in 12 months to about 125,000b/d, newspaper Expreso reported.
López also announced that the ministry will call for bids on a second tender in January 2005 for service contracts on the Sacha, Libertador, Cononaco, Guanta-Dureno, and Cuyabeno-Sansahuari fields. The estimated investment in these fields is US$274mn, and the idea is to increase their production by 35,000 barrels a day (b/d) to about 143,000b/d in 24 months, La Hora reported.
The ministry suspended the first tender in April due to legal problems.
Twenty-one companies had bought bidding rules for one or more of the fields. The ministry's plan was to re-launch the tender upon congressional approval of the reform bill presented by President Lucio Gutiérrez to congress in June. However, congress rejected the bill because lawmakers could not agree on a fixed participation for the state. The government has withdrawn the bill for further analysis.
Petroecuador's current production is about 204,000b/d, the spokesperson said.
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