Repsol YPF signed an exploration and production contract for the block with Neuquen's energy sub-secretary last week, Repsol YPF said in a statement. Repsol, and its partners Germany's Wintershall and Argentina's Pan American Energy, plan to start 3D seismic studies this year and cover the block's entire 931sq km area by 2005, the source said. At least one exploratory well is planned for 2005, and more could be drilled depending on the results of the seismic studies and the first well, the source added.
French oil company Total sold its stake to Repsol YPF in November, 2002, as part of its plan to reduce its Argentine investments while gas prices remain frozen at US$0.35 per million BTU. Repsol YPF is the block's operator and owns 37.5%, Wintershall owns 37.5% and Pan American owns 25%.
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