Seven Bid in Chile Oil, Gas E&P Tender

SANTIAGO Oct. 11, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswire)

Seven companies or consortiums handed in bids in Chile's oil and natural gas exploration and production tender, the Mining Ministry said Thursday.

Seven blocks are being tendered for private development, while another three are for joint ventures with state energy company Empresa Nacional del Petroleo, or Enap. All 10 blocks are located in the southernmost Magallanes region.

According to the ministry, there were 14 bids for nine of the 10 blocks. Bidding companies included Total SA (TOT), Apache Canada Ltd., Pan-American Energy LLC and a consortium that includes Canada's Methanex Corp. (MEOH) and Geopark Holdings (GPK.LN). These last two are already operating in the Magallanes region.

Winning bidders will be announced on Nov. 15.

Enap is currently pumping oil and gas from the Magallanes region, although in small quantities. The ministry's tender is part of the Chilean government's effort to diversify its energy sources after Argentina reduced its natural gas exports to Chile.

Chile currently imports 98% of its crude oil, 96% of its coal and 75% of its natural gas, and Argentina is its sole natural gas supplier.

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