Brazilian Govt. Confirms Round 7 for October 2005

Brazil's national energy policy council (CNPE) has set October 2005 as the date for the country's seventh hydrocarbon licensing round, in which the blocks offered will have good potential for natural gas finds, the mines and energy ministry said in a statement.

In March the CNPE, which is headed by mines and energy minister Dilma Rousseff, will reconvene to appraise blocks that could go up for licensing. The CNPE wants the study to concentrate on blocks with a potential to contain gas reserves to make up for the growing demand for the fuel, the statement said.

Among the sedimentary basins where gas has already been found are Santos, Espírito Santo, Camamu-Almada and Solimões.

Hydrocarbons regulator ANP has started preliminary studies for Round 7. ANP chairman Sebastião Rego Barros will not head the process since he will be replaced in early January when his term ends. The government has yet to name a replacement, but local newspapers have speculated that ANP director Haroldo Lima could be a strong candidate.

Brazil has awarded exploration licenses to local and foreign companies yearly since the state monopoly on the oil and gas sectors was broken in 1998. The bidding rounds were traditionally held in August, and the change in 2005 aims to avoid northern hemisphere oil companies having to work over their summer vacations, thus attracting more interest.

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