Peru to Sign 20 Hydrocarbon Exploration Contracts in '10

LIMA (Dow Jones), Dec. 28, 2009

Peru's mining ministry is set to sign 20 new hydrocarbon exploration contracts in 2010, said state newspaper El Peruano Monday.

The new exploration contracts will be awarded by Perupetro, Peru's state licensing agency for hydrocarbon exploration, via a series of auctions. The first auction of 10 new exploration blocks is due to be held in January.

In Camisea's natural gas blocks 88 and 56 in the central highland region of Cusco, operated by the Pluspetrol consortium, a projected $576 million would be spent on further production and exploration works, the paper said.

Pluspetrol Peru Corp. SA is the lead operator of the Camisea project, which includes U.S.-based Hunt Oil Co., South Korea's SK Corp., Tecpetrol, a unit of Argentina's Techint Group, Algeria's Sonatrach Petroleum Corp. and Spain's Repsol YPF SA.

The state paper also said a total of $178 million is to be spent exploring new gas reserves in blocks 57 and 58, near the Camisea natural gas fields.

Investments in block 57 -- controlled 54% by Repsol, and 46% by Brazil's Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras -- should total $80 million, the paper said. In lot 58, operated solely by Petrobras, investments are to reach $98 million.

Of the 89 Peruvian hydrocarbon contracts awarded so far, 19 are in production, while 70 are in the exploration phase, El Peruano said.

Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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