Neuquen Opens Economic Bids for Rio Barrancas E&P

Argentina's Neuquen province has opened economic bids from two groups for the E&P contract on the Rio Barrancas block, the province said in a statement.

The consortium of local engineering firm Ingenieria Sima and the YPF subsidiary of Spanish oil major Repsol YPF (NYSE: REP) bid US$18.6 million. The consortium of German oil company Wintershall Energia and Argentina's Petrobras Energia (NYSE: PZE) bid US$12.2 million.

Neuquen province-controlled oil company Hidenesa will analyze the bids this month and award the contract in the first week of February, the statement said.

Hidenesa will only participate with a 10% stake if a hydrocarbons discovery is made, which would come in addition to the province's 12% royalty rate.

This tender marks the first time the framework allowing Hidenesa to back in has been used. The province also intends to use the method for the 20 areas set for tender in 2007.

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