HRT, Petrobras, TNK-Brasil Agree to Study Amazon Natural Gas

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazilian oil start-up HRT Participacoes em Petroleo SA, state-run energy company Petroleo Brasileiro and TNK-Brasil will join efforts to study ways to develop natural-gas fields in the remote Amazon rainforest, HRT said Monday.

The three companies signed a protocol of intentions to conduct technical, economic and environmental studies aimed at developing natural-gas fields in contiguous areas close to the Jurua natural-gas field, HRT said. The companies expect to have a timeline for the project in 30 days.

"The combined efforts and expertise of the three companies, along with the support of the federal government and state government of Amazonas represents an important step in the development of Brazil's natural gas industry," HRT Chief Executive Marcio Mello said.

HRT, which doesn't yet have any oil or natural-gas production, has made five natural-gas finds in the Solimoes Basin of the jungle region. But questions about how to turn the discoveries into production have weighed on the company's shares over the past year.

Petrobras, as the federal oil company is also known, operates the remote Urucu field that has produced natural gas not far from HRT's discoveries. The natural gas from Urucu is transported out of the area via pipeline to the Amazon city of Manaus.

In August, HRT CEO Marcio Mello said the company and partner TNK-Brasil expected to hammer out a "monetization strategy" for the discoveries by the end of 2013. HRT, which holds a 55% operating stake in 21 exploration blocks in Solimoes, and TNK-Brasil also expect to submit a development plan for the Solimoes Basin prospects to local regulators by the end of 2012. TNK-Brasil, a subsidiary of BP PLC's Russian joint venture TNK-BP Ltd., holds the remaining 45%.


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