Algeria's Sonatrach has opened its first competitive exploration and production licensing round and commissioned a marine seismic survey along the country's entire Mediterranean coast.
The licensing round, to close Feb. 14, 2001, covers 6 blocks. Blocks 406b and 237a are in the Berkine basin; Block 245 (south) is in the Illizi basin; Block 332 is in the Ahnet basin; Block 348 is in the Timimoun basin; and Block 126 is in the Constantine basin in northeastern Algeria.
Oil Minister Chekib Khalil told reporters in Vienna that the North African country opened a data room where potential bidders can get information about the concessions and the production-sharing contract being offered.
He was quoted as saying that the USX-Marathon Group's Marathon Oil Co. and Royal Dutch/Shell Group are among 19 potential bidders for the concessions.
Marathon and Shell, neither of which currently operates in Algeria, were among 19 companies that expressed interest in the concessions, Khalil said.
The companies have three months to evaluate the six blocks. Contracts must be signed when the bids are made, Khalil said. Bids will be opened and awarded on the same day, Feb. 14, 2001, and presentations will be held in Algiers Feb. 19.
"Whoever offers the best share to the government will get the contract," Khalil said. "There's no negotiation."
Sonatrach let a contract for the acquisition of 6,000 line km of 2D seismic data, gravity, and magnetic data off Algeria's coastline of nearly 750 miles.
The Western Geophysical division of Baker Hughes Inc. began acquisition in the Annaba region and later will process the data.
The coverage area is from a few kilometers to more than 100 km offshore in less than 50 m to more than 2,000 m of water. The survey will tie the Habibas, Arzew, Alg. 1, and DSDP-C371 wells, Western said.
No exploration agreements are in force on the acreage.
Abdelhak Bouhafs, president director general of Sonatrach, said the project includes a training program for Algerian technicians.
"The training should help Sonatrach personnel to fully understand and master offshore seismic surveying techniques and gain a better understanding of hydrocarbon potential in the Algerian continental shelf."