ANP Awards 251 Blocks in Round 7, Petrobras Wins 95

Brazil's national hydrocarbons regulator ANP has awarded 251 of the 1,134 exploration blocks offered in the seventh hydrocarbon licensing round, raising 1.09bn reais (US$482mn) in signing fees, ANP announced.

This compares with 154 blocks awarded out of 913 offered in 2004's sixth round and 665mn reais raised in fees.

ANP president Haroldo Lima, speaking at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, called the auction a success and praised companies which bid for frontier areas. Lima did, however, call for an increase in government budget allocations to ANP to boost geological research for upcoming rounds. "Some of the entrance fees were low because our research is outdated," he said. "We have only enough data for one more licensing round and the success of this auction should show the government the importance of the oil industry."

The leading companies in the tender were: federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR), which was awarded interests in 95 blocks; Portugal's state oil company Petrogal, awarded interests in 30 blocks; Spanish oil company Repsol YPF, with interests in 16 blocks; and British gas company BG Group with 10 blocks. Anglo Dutch oil company Shell won interests in five blocks, US oil company Devon was awarded interests in four blocks, Canadian oil company Encana was awarded minority interest in two blocks and Italian oil company Eni and US oil company Amerada Hess were awarded one block each.

Brazilian companies W Washington, Starfish, Phoenix Empreendimentos, Aurizônia, Silver Marlin, Synergy and Arbi Petroleo led the bids on the onshore blocks accounting for 210 of the blocks awarded.

The onshore blocks that attracted the most interest were those in the Potiguar, Recôncavo, Espírito Santo and Sergipe-Alagoas mature basins.

The new frontier basins of São Francisco in the southeastern region of the country and the Amazon region of Solimões also attracted unexpected interest from bidders.

Other companies that won onshore blocks included Canadian oil company Brazalta Resources and US oil company Koch.

Argentine Oil M&S won over 40 blocks in the São Francisco and Solimões basins and Brazilian geophysics research company Geobras won eight licenses in the São Francisco basin.

All of the 10 licenses BG Group won were in partnerships with Petrobras as operator. Of these, six are in the São Francisco basin and four in the Santos basin.

The offshore Santos blocks, close to the existing natural gas fields of Merluza and Mexlihão, also attracted a lot of interest, where 19 blocks were awarded of the 279 offered. The Campos basin only attracted bids in the deepwater sector and ANP awarded just six blocks of the 44 on offer.

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