Guyana to Auction 14 Offshore Oil Exploration Blocks

Guyana, which is expected to become a major oil producer over the coming decades, will offer 14 offshore exploration blocks, which the nation’s vice president Jagdeo says will significantly increase its share of oil revenue. The oil lease auction was approved by officials this week, with timing details to be disclosed by the Ministry of Natural Resources. Jagdeo said the auction will include 11 shallow and three deep-water exploration blocks.

Jagdeo added that a new profit sharing agreement that will cover future oil production is set to be finalized before the auctions end. It will include a 50/50 split of oil profits and tack on a 10% royalty rate and a 10% corporate tax rate, Jagdeo said.

Contract terms “shift significantly” the revenue split, with Guyana receiving a “greater share of the proceeds” compared to the existing Production Sharing Agreement terms, Jagdeo pointed out. Still, he said they should accelerate Guyana’s oil boom by bringing in new producers.

A group led by Exxon Mobil that includes Hess Corp and China’s CNOOC has discovered 11 billion barrels of recoverable oil in a 26,800 sq. km. block off the country’s coast. That agreement has been criticized for providing Guyana with only about 15% of oil revenues, including a 2% royalty rate.

Oil producers can bid for as many blocks as they wish, but no more than three blocks will be awarded to any one company. Each bid must include a development plan that will be considered along with the financial bid, Jagdeo said.

Winning bidders must pay a $10 million signing bonus for shallow water blocks and $20 million for deepwater awards, he said. They also will be required to put up a guarantee of at least 20% of the work development plan.

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