Bidding for Four Natgas E&P Licenses Attracts 13

Thirteen companies have paid US$350,000 each for data on four offshore natural gas E&P license areas in Venezuela, state oil firm PDVSA said in a statement.

The data includes information on the chemical composition of the soil, as well as seismic, geodesic and geological data.

The process is part of a bidding process that the energy and oil ministry (MEP) launched August 8 for the four areas, in which PDVSA will hold a stake. The MEP invited 34 companies to participate.

The 13 firms that bought bidding rules are the following: Anglo-Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-B); Brazil's federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR); Japan's Teikoku and Mitsubishi; France's Total (NYSE: TOT); US major Chevron (NYSE: CVX); Russia's Lukoil; Anglo-French independent Hocol; Italy's ENI (NYSE: E); India's ONGC; Spain's Repsol RPF (NYSE: REP); Norway's Statoil; and Vinccler, the Venezuelan unit of Canada's PetroFalcon (TSX: PFC).

Of the four areas, the three near La Blanquilla island have the most seismic data available: 19,287km of 2D seismic and 1,800 sq km of 3D data. Punta Pescador has 2,251km of 2D and 620 sq km of 3D data. Eleven exploratory wells have been drilled in the four areas.

La Blanquilla, close to Margarita island, includes block A, B and C, and Punta Pescador is on the Orinoco river delta. The four areas combined hold an estimated 8.5 trillion cubic feet (Tf3) of gas, according to the ministry. By comparison, Venezuela's proven gas reserves total 150Tf3.

Interested companies have until October 25 to present bids and winners will be announced October 28.

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