The Government of Argentina will publish the terms for an upcoming bid for oil exploration rights in the offshore fields in the next few days.
According to an energy ministry official, the auction process has drawn interest from major oil companies.
Since 1991, this is the first bid and will enable national and overseas oil giants to take part in the auction process for rights to explore 38 oil blocks.
Of the 38 blocks, 14 are in the northern Argentina basin, six in the Austral basin, and 18 in the Malvinas West basin.
Beyond southern Austral basin, very little exploration has been done.
Geologists and several firms, including state-owned YPF and Norway’s Equinor, are hopeful about the potential of the other basins.
Over 20 firms had reportedly shown interest by accessing information from the government’s hydrocarbons database.
The official told Reuters: “It is well advanced. There has been good interest.”
The auction is part of the government’s efforts to draw private investment into the energy sector this year, a move originating from President Mauricio Macri’s free market reforms.
Although Macri’s government has initiated a measure to reduce labour costs and ease other restrictions to do business, several players continue to be wary of making investments on a long-term basis.
The auction process will first require a presidential decree authorising the energy ministry to hold the auction, followed by a ministry resolution indicating the terms.
Initially, the government was expected to set the terms in July. However, this was delayed after ministerial changes in June. Oil exploration rights will be given to companies that provide the most investment.
The rights will be given for four years and can be extended for another four years.