Trinidad & Tobago Near Awards for Onshore Oil and Gas Exploration

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May 29 (Reuters) – The Trinidad and Tobago government accepted bid recommendations for six of eight onshore oil and gas exploration blocks, people close to the matter said on Sunday, setting the stage for awards to be disclosed as soon as this week.

The Caribbean nation has pushed to expand exploration to counter declines in its oil and gas production. Gas and petrochemicals provide a large part of its export revenue.

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A decision to award licenses for six of the eight blocks on offer was taken by the country’s cabinet on Thursday on the recommendation of Trinidad and Tobago Energy Minister Stuart Young, the people said. Young is scheduled to address an international energy conference in Miami on Tuesday.

Trinidad and Tobago’s A&V Oil and Gas Ltd was recommended for the St. Mary’s block, which had received four bids, the most of any offer. A&V bested Canadian energy firm, Touchstone Exploration Inc (TXP.TO), which bid as Primera Oil and Gas Limited, the people said.

Touchstone was recommended for the Cipero block, Eco Oil and Gas Solutions for the Tulsa block, and Challenger Energy received for the Guayaguayare block, the people said.

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Touchstone, Challenger and Trinity did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

The Aripero Block will go to Nabi Construction (Trinidad and Tobago) Ltd, while the Buenos Aires block is to be awarded to Trinity Exploration & Production Plc.

The winning bids were selected based on their willingness to conduct seismic studies and the number of wells they agreed to drill. Some winners also agreed to pay signing bonuses, the people said.

The energy ministry expects to pursue negotiations with companies that bid on the two unawarded blocks to gauge whether they might improve their offers, cabinet sources told Reuters.

Reporting by Curtis Williams in Houston; editing by Diane Craft
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