Argentine province expects Big Oil to bid in shale block auction
By Marianna Parraga
HOUSTON, April 30 (Reuters) - Argentina's Neuquen province expects major global energy companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron Corp and Exxon Mobil Corp , to bid in a May auction of 11 oil blocks, its energy minister said on Wednesday.
The exploration and development blocks include conventional and unconventional oil and gas resources, most of them in the vast Vaca Muerta shale formation, considered one of the world's biggest shale deposits.
The results are expected for August.
"For unconventionals, the players will be the majors," Neuquen Energy Minister Guillermo Coco said in Houston on a road show to attract foreign capital. "Chevron, Exxon, Shell have shown interest in Vaca Muerta. They will compete for sure."
Companies interested in participating would have to form joint ventures with the provincial oil company, Gas y Petroleo de Neuquen (GyP), with 50-90 percent stakes, depending on the block size and resources.
"We want to be the minority stakeholders in all the unconventional projects and also be an important stakeholder in conventional developments," Coco added.
According to Argentine law, it is possible for companies to form consortia to develop conventional and unconventional resources separately in a single block.
President Cristina Fernandez has given the provinces more leeway to set up energy development programs, a reflection of the huge resources needed to exploit the fields. Continuación...