Gas E&P Auction Delayed Until After Elections

Venezuela's government has delayed the auction for four offshore natural gas E&P licenses in the country's east until after the December 3 presidential election, a top government official told BNamericas.

The auction originally was due November 28.

"Right now the priority lies in politics, but as soon as we have our hands free of that we will announce the timeframe," Jorge Luis Sanchez, president of natural gas regulator Enagas said.

The auctioning process, dubbed Delta Caribe, entails awarding three blocks near La Blanquilla island and a fourth between the Orinoco river delta and Trinidad & Tobago.

The government invited 34 companies to participate in the auction, of which 13 paid for rights to take part.

The 13 are: Anglo-Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-B); Brazil's Petrobras (NYSE: PBR); Japan's Teikoku and Mitsubishi; France's Total (NYSE: TOT); US major Chevron (NYSE: CVX); Russia's Lukoil; Hocol; Italy's ENI (NYSE: E); India's ONGC; Spain's Repsol YPF (NYSE: REP); Norway's Statoil (NYSE: STA); and Vinccler, the Venezuelan unit of Canada's PetroFalcon (TSX: PFC).

Polls put President Hugo Chavez ahead of Zulia state governor Manuel Rosales for Sunday's vote.

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