Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay and other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are seeking to drum up investment to widen exploration and boost oil and natural gas production, industry officials said Tuesday.
“There is a lot of potential in all of the basins throughout Latin America,” Jose Gabriel Lopez, deputy energy secretary of the Argentinian province of Neuquen, said at the ARPEL 2017 Oil and Gas Conference on Latin America and the Caribbean in Punta del Este, Uruguay.
His province is competing for investment dollars in the region. It recently launched a tender for six blocks to develop Vaca Muerta and other unconventional plays, considered to have some of the world’s greatest potential. Another 50 blocks will be offered quarterly, starting in 2018.
Companies are taking note. Joao Araujo Figueira, director president of Petrobras Mexico, a division of Brazil’s state-run oil company, said there are “ample opportunities for small and big companies to expand their upstream portfolios.”
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What are the opportunities? Here are several examples of what was mentioned at the conference:
* Bolivia’s state-owned YPFB plans to promote its exploration opportunities, for which it has been acquiring seismic data and using magnetotellurics methods to pinpoint blocks with “interesting prospects,” said Luis Carlos Sanchez, YPFB’s operations manager. He said almost 55% of the country’s territory contains oil and gas production potential that’s yet to be developed. Argentina’s YPF, Russia’s Gazprom, Shell and other companies are entering new ventures in Bolivia, he added.
* The Dominican Republic plans to launch a tender in the next two weeks for 10,000 sq km of seismic studies in the Ocoa and San Pedro offshore blocks in the south, plus for studies elsewhere, said Alberto Reyes, deputy minister of hydrocarbons. The government has already received bids from 10 companies, he added. “There are opportunities right now for services companies, and very attractive opportunities for oil companies in the future,” he said.
* Guatemala’s government plans to launch a bidding round in 2018 for eight to nine blocks, buoyed by recent finds of condensate and gas after years of producing mostly heavy crude, said Luis Ayala, the country’s director general of hydrocarbons. The blocks on offer are near those already in production and have 2-D seismic and well data, he said.
* Jamaica plans to use a “first come, first served” system for offering blocks, said Winston Watson, a director manager of Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, the country’s state oil company. “We have under- and unexplored acreage in offshore,” he said.
* Suriname’s Staatsolie plans to hold a farm-in round to find partners to develop two near-shore blocks, said Marny Daal-Vogelland, manager of oil contracts at the state company. “The time is right now to fully focus again on our core business, which is to explore and produce oil,” she said. Staatsolie has been producing oil onshore for 35 years, and it believes there is a “logical progress of the onshore fields” as well as similar geology and light oil, she said. The round will be for Block B and Block C, both measuring 3,000 sq km and with water depths of up to 30 meters, she said. The reserve potential is 300 million to 915 million barrels in Block B and 100 million to 350 million barrels in Block C, Daal-Vogelland said. The company wants to sign the farm-in deal in first-quarter 2018 and start works in Q3 2018, she added.
* Uruguay’s state oil company ANCAP plans to launch a tender for 17 offshore blocks in September, followed by a possible series of rounds for 10 onshore blocks, said Ignacio Horvath, general manager of ANCAP. This would be the third round for offshore acreage, as the country seeks to find its own oil and gas reserves and put them into production.
–Charles Newbery, firstname.lastname@example.org
–Edited by Jason Lindquist, email@example.com