ANP Guarantees Rights of Round 8 Winners

Winners in Brazil's now-cancelled 8th hydrocarbons exploration licensing round are guaranteed their rights to explore the 38 blocks they won before court injunctions suspended the process, hydrocarbons regulator ANP president Haroldo Lima told reporters.

"There is nothing I know to challenge the legality of the blocks that were awarded," Lima said.

The round was suspended after initial sessions on Tuesday by two court injunctions that questioned details of bidding rules.

In the four-hour window when the auction went ahead on Tuesday morning, ANP offered 47 onshore blocks in the Tucano basin and 11 offshore blocks in the Santos basin.

Of the 47, 28 were awarded in Tucano and 10 in Santos to 23 companies.

The companies paid a total of 588mn reais (US$270mn) in entrance fees and committed to minimum exploration programs that add up to 600mn reais over the next six years, ANP officials said.

Petrobras won 21 of the blocks and the other 22 companies won the others, including Canada's Rich Minerals, which won interest in four blocks, Spain's Repsol YPF (NYSE: REP), which also won four blocks and Norway's Norsk Hydro, which picked up three.

Italian oil company Eni (NYSE: E) won one block by offering a record 307mn reais for an entrance fee, or more than 100 times the minimum entrance fee of 2mn reais.

The winners still have to sign the exploration contracts with ANP to confirm their exploration rights.

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