Guyana postpones offshore oil blocks auction to mid-August

(Reuters) – Guyana will postpone by about one month its first offshore oil blocks auction as the country finalizes new terms of the country’s oil and gas regulatory framework, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo told Reuters on Friday.

The South American nation has three times before delayed the offer of 14 offshore blocks intended to recruit new explorers and lessen the grip over its oil output by a group led by Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM.N).

The oil auction postponement was due to local elections held this week, Jagdeo said. A new date for the auction has not been set, he said.

The delay comes as the country is finishing up terms of a model Production and Sharing Agreement (PSA) that will govern future contracts.

The PSA is “practically finalized,” Jagdeo said, and a draft of the country’s new Petroleum Act will be posted on Monday on the Energy Resources Ministry’s website for two weeks of public consultation.

The government will evaluate comments and suggestions and seek parliamentary approval of the Petroleum Act before the action, Jagdeo said.

The Exxon-led consortium, which includes Hess Corp (HES.N) and China’s CNOOC Ltd (0883.HK), has discovered more than 11 billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas and is producing some 380,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude in Guyana.

Exxon has previously said it was awaiting the new contract terms to evaluate its participation.

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