"We need time to train our new personnel," Ribeiro said, referring to recent licensing department hires. The last round was in October 2005.
The ANP also needs to identify the areas to be offered, draft block details and establish tender rules and guidelines. National energy policy CNPE still must approve the round, she added.
The regulator also plans to launch a second tender for mature marginal fields in November. The first is scheduled for end-May for 21 mature fields.
Although details were not disclosed, the official said ANP is thinking of separating the eighth round blocks into mature, high-potential, frontier and marginal, as in the previous process.
"In order to maintain self sufficiency, we need to continue offering blocks at the rate we have been doing recently," she said.
In 2005, ANP offered 1,134 exploratory blocks, 251 of which were awarded to 41 different companies. Total investment commitment by these companies adds up to US$800mn over the next six years.
The seventh round concentrated on areas likely to contain gas reserves and included new frontier blocks that attracted unexpected interest, such as the onshore Sao Francisco basin blocks.
"We need to continue to offer new areas since only 5% of our 29 sedimentary basins are currently being explored, but we will need to maintain a balance between new frontier blocks and blocks in areas of known high potential."
MORE STUDIES NEEDED
Brazil is on the brink of announcing self-sufficiency, with local production topping 1.8 million barrels of oil a day. For this to continue, the country needs to continue research and putting new blocks out to tender, according to Ribeiro.
ANP's research spending will likely increase this year compared to 2005 as part of the 40mn reais of last year's budget was not spent, she said.
"We managed to obtain congressional support for our research effort and this money should be guaranteed," she added.
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