(Brazil)-When Brazil conducts its seventh annual auction of exploratory oil and gas areas on Oct. 17-19, a record number of companies will be participating. According to the director of the National Petroleum Agency (ANP), 53 companies have shown interest in acquiring exploration blocks, and 113 companies want to take part in auctions for smaller and more mature fields.
This far outweighs last year's auction, in which only 24 companies participated.
Of the 1,134 blocks to be auctioned, 625 are offshore. Of these, only 16% are in areas that are considered high potential for oil and gas discovery. The offshore Espirito Santo region contains many of the blocks for auction, and new blocks will be auctioned off close to the Mexilhao gas field in the Santos Basin, off the coast of the capital Sao Paulo. State-oil company Petrobras has hit gas with proven reserves of 72 bcm in this region already, and hopes to begin producing 12 MMcm/d beginning in 2008.
Exploration offshore Brazil is not expected to slow down anytime soon. ANP Director John Forman stated that if oil prices stay high in the coming years, Brazil's oil reserves have the potential to increase fivefold from current levels.