The companies - Ingenieria Alpa, Petrocondor Argentina and Compania Exploradora Midas - will invest US$10mn to explore the Totoral, Yerba Buena and Bajada Colorada blocks.
Exploration works entail drilling eight wells to 1,500m depth, 100 sq km of 3D seismic surveys, 50 sq km of 2D seismic and the reprocessing of existing seismic data.
The blocks have a combined 4,589 sq km area.
If a hydrocarbons discovery is made, Neuquen province-controlled oil company Hidenesa would participate with a 10% stake in addition to the province's 12% royalty rate.
The agreement also calls for a second stage in which the companies would evaluate the geologic characteristics and exploratory potential of another medium-risk area, the statement said, without providing details on the area.
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