Rio Negro Announces Tender Timeline for 5 Neuquen Blocks

The government of Argentina's Rio Negro province will launch bidding for five hydrocarbons blocks in the Neuquen basin on July 3, the provincial government's hydrocarbons department said on its website.

The five blocks - Laguna El Loro, Laguna de la Piedra, Loma Kauffman, Meseta Baya and Cinco Saltos - are the first of 18 blocks the province ultimately plans to tender.

Argentine oil company Pluspetrol, Brazil's federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) and several Canadian companies already have expressed interest, among other companies, hydrocarbons department director Tamara Perez Balda told BNamericas.

Interested parties can obtain bidding rules for US$5,000 as well as accompanying technical information ranging from US$2,000-12,000 depending on the block, according to the statement.

The government will receive bids from August 8-September 26, when technical bids will be opened, and plans to open economic bids on October 16, the statement said.

The blocks will be awarded to the winning bidders within 10 days of qualification. The government will sign the contracts within 20 days of notifying companies which blocks they have been awarded.

The E&P concessions would carry three-year, two-year then one-year exploration phases, with a required investment of 250 work units, 500 work units and 350 work units respectively, according to the website.

A hydrocarbons ministry official previously said the blocks are expected to produce more oil than natural gas, although there were some gas discoveries on certain blocks in December.

The provincial government will call for bids on five more blocks in October and tender the remaining eight in the first months of 2007.

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