ANH to Launch Niscota Tender in 1Q06

Colombia's hydrocarbons regulator ANH will launch a new tender in the first quarter of 2006 for an exploration and production license on the 62,275-hectare Niscota block in the Llanos basin, the country's presidential news service SNE reported.

ANH's board approved preliminary studies of the block, the results of which are due at the end of January, and will help determine the minimum bidding requirements for the tender, the statement said.

A firm timeline, including the last day to buy bidding rules, will be established after the ANH receives the results of the studies, an ANH spokesperson told BNamericas.

The ANH expects to declare the winner of the tender by April, the statement said.

UK oil company BP signed the Niscota association contract with Colombia's state oil company Ecopetrol in 2000, but stopped drilling in November 2003 after reaching a depth of 19,000 feet without discovering commercially viable hydrocarbons quantities.

BP relinquished the block this past July, the statement said.

BP had invested US$80mn in the Niscota block, including geologic studies, reprocessing 46km of seismic data, processing 100 sq km of 3D seismic data, and drilling the Niscota E1 well, which came up dry, the statement said.

Although BP and Ecopetrol each had a 50% interest in the Niscota block, the new contract will allow up to 70% foreign participation in accordance with legislation that liberalized Colombia's energy sector, the spokesperson said.

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