Colombia shortlists 20 firms for heavy oil projects

Uchenna Izundu
International Editor

LONDON, Apr. 4 -- Colombia's National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) has invited 20 companies to submit formal proposals in May to develop eight greenfield heavy-oil blocks in the East Llanos basin, the head of the agency told OGJ.

Companies that made the shortlist include ExxonMobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Nexen Inc., and OAO Lukoil. In an exclusive interview, Armando Zamora, director general, said ANH hopes to sign technical evaluation agreements with the winners by July.

"We have invited those with the financial muscle and expertise to do the work," Zamora said. "We want companies that can engage in high risk exploration." The successful companies will have a large area in which to gather data and drill stratigraphic wells, he added. They will then choose a limited area within the technical evaluation agreement (TEA) area. "We will sign a limited number of exploration contracts, depending on the size of the area," Zamora said. "The rest of the block will be open to outside competition."

Zamora anticipates that the ANH will select 4-8 companies to work on the eight blocks, and they will have 3 years to perform TEA work.

According to a study carried out by Halliburton, the blocks hold an estimated 120 billion bbl of original resources in place. Heavy oil development is a major component of ANH's strategy to help Colombia increases its reserves to 4 billion boe by 2020.

It separately is offering 17 heavy oil blocks under its international bidding round to potential operators to sign exploration contracts by October (OGJ Online, Apr. 2, 2008).

Contact Uchenna Izundu at uchennai@pennwell.com.

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