Colombia to Auction 13 Caribbean Coast Oil Blocks in September

BOGOTA Apr 12, 2007 Dow Jones Newswires

The Colombian government will auction oil and gas exploration rights in 13 offshore blocks along the Caribbean coast on Sept. 18, Mines and Energy Minister Hernan Martinez said Thursday.

Italian ENI SpA (E), Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) and Colombia's state-owned oil company Ecopetrol have shown interest in participating in the process.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM); Brazilian oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR), or Petrobras; BP PLC (BP), Hunt Oil Co.; Argentina's Pluspetrol and India's Reliant Energy (RRI) also requested information about the process, said Armando Zamora, president of the National Hydrocarbons Agency, which is the government's oil licensing body.

He said other companies, including one from China, requested information, but didn't identify them.

"We will only know who is bidding when we receive the offers on the auction date," he said.

The winners of the exploration rights will be the companies that offer to transfer the biggest share of oil or gas production to the government if they make a commercial discovery.

The winners will have a 10-year right to explore in the area, and rights to produce oil until the field is depleted.

Three years after winning the rights, the companies will have to hand back 50% of the area to the government, a standard procedure in such auctions.

Halliburton Co. (HAL) is advising the government in the process.

Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.