Ancap, Petrobras Prepare to Study Deepwater Basins

Uruguay's national oil company Ancap is in talks with Brazil's federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) and a Brazilian university to carry out detailed studies in deepwater regions of the Pelotas and Punta del Este basins off Uruguay's coast.

The geological and geophysical studies aim to identify hydrocarbons reserves in the basins, Ancap geology department head Hector Alvarez told BNamericas.

The studies would expand on 2004 studies carried out by Ancap, Petrobras and Spanish oil company Repsol YPF (NYSE: REP) on Uruguay's basins plus those of northern Argentina's Colorado Marina and Pelotas, which stretches from southern Brazil to northern Uruguay.

Initial talks are with Brazil's federal university Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais state, Alvarez said, although nothing has been decided.

"The earlier studies confirmed the presence of structures that could contain hydrocarbons," he said during the Latin America Gas Summit 2006 in Sao Paulo. According to initial studies, the structures are similar to West Africa's Orange basin, where huge gas reserves have been found.

Alvarez did not say when the partnership would be finalized but indicated Ancap and Petrobras could form a partnership to explore the basins depending on study results.

"Petrobras already has downstream operations in Uruguay," he said.

Last year the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for exploration and refining cooperation.

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