In its first call for oil exploration in deep waters, the Energy Secretariat got the interest of investors in almost half of the areas it made available. The Government highlighted yesterday that 13 companies presented offers to operate in 18 “offshore” areas. Since there were 38 blocks available, the effectiveness of the call for bids was 47%.
YPF, Pluspetrol, Total, Tecpetrol and Wintershall are among the companies that bid. Exxon and Shell are associated, in different blocks, with Qatar Petroleum. Also participating were the British BP, the Italian Eni, the Japanese Mitsui, the Anglo-African Tullow and the Norwegian Equinor.
The total investment committed is US $ 995 million. The Malvinas Oeste basin, with interest in 9 areas, was the one that could raise the most money, with investment proposals for US $ 776 million. In the North Argentina basin, there were proposals for seven areas for a total of US $ 181.1 million. In the case of the Austral basin, two areas aroused attractiveness for US $ 38 million.
Unlike Brazil, which has 16 rounds of tenders for offshore oil, the Argentine experience is first-time. And the novelty led local authorities to propose a business model different from that of the Mercosur partner.
In Brazil, the companies present themselves to the blocks and promise to pay a percentage of the profits obtained there to the Government. Depending on the interest and the moment, there are companies that committed up to 77% of the future revenue in order to be awarded with a particular oil block.
In the local model, the Government established “work units”. In these modules, each company must develop seismic studies in 3-D, 2-D and soil works. The companies that promised to start up a greater number of work units were the ones chosen by the government, according to official sources.
In the local scheme, the oil companies will have four initial years to carry out the first works. Then, they will have another four as they commit themselves to a drilling activity. And they can request an extension of five more years, also if they present tests that will do jobs.
After those 13 years, the oil companies must start with a concession, which will pay royalties to the national government. “The 13th is the deadline, firms can start with the concession before, when it seems appropriate, the estimate is that they do it from years 6 to 8 of the initial 13,” they specified in the Government.
Once the concessions have begun, they will be 35 years old, as is the case with unconventional ones, such as those of Vaca Muerta. The “traditional” concessions are 25 years old.
Also, as a way to attract investors, the royalties that the concessions will pay will start at 5%, and will reach 12% once they are advanced. In the Secretariat of Energy, they consider it a tempting time for investors.
Although most of the works have to be developed, the oil companies already have some information about the potential of gas and oil in the blocks for which they offered.
Shell Argentina, in a consortium with Qatar Petroleum, won two exploratory blocks in deep waters located in the Cuenca Argentina Norte. Shell will have a 60% interest in exploration licenses and will be the operator. QP will have the remaining 40% stake.
ExxonMobil, also together with an affiliate of Qatar Petroleum won three exploration blocks, located approximately 320 kilometers offshore of the province of Tierra del Fuego.
YPF was the winner of three blocks. In Malvinas, he will do it with Total and Equinor. In the North Argentina basin, your company will be with Equinor.
Neither the Government nor the companies reported how much money was offered punctually for each area, since they measure it in the “work units”, as generators of activity.