Rio Negro Pre-awards 4 Neuquen Exploration Concessions

The government of Argentina's Rio Negro province has pre-awarded exploration permits for four hydrocarbons blocks in the Neuquen basin, the provincial government said in a statement.

Specifically, the province pre-awarded the Laguna El Loro block to US oil company Cliveden; the Laguna de Piedra block to Korean oil firm Golden Oil; the Loma de Kauffman block to Argentine oil firm Interenergy; and the Cinco Saltos block to Argentine oil firm Pluspetrol.

Cliveden was the only company to submit an offer for Laguna El Loro. Rio Negro delayed pre-awarding the block so Cliveden could fulfill certain formal requirements.

Estimated investment in the four blocks is expected to reach US$80mn in total over two years.

The province aims to award and sign the contracts at the end of December, province hydrocarbons department director Tamara Perez Balda told BNamericas, adding exploration work would begin January-February 2007.

The blocks are the first of 18 the province ultimately plans to tender.

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