Exxon Mobil wins three exploration blocks offshore Argentina

FILE PHOTO: A logo of the Exxon Mobil Corp is seen at the Rio Oil and Gas Expo and Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes/File Photo

(Reuters) - U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil Corp said on Tuesday its unit and an affiliate of Qatar Petroleum had won three exploration blocks offshore Argentina.

The three blocks will add about 2.6 million net acres to Exxon’s existing holdings in Argentina, the company said. The blocks are located in the Malvinas basin, about 200 miles (320 kms) offshore Tierra del Fuego.

Exxon’s existing Argentina holdings include 315,000 net acres spread over seven blocks in the onshore Neuquén Basin of the Vaca Muerta unconventional oilfield and a business support center in Buenos Aires.

ExxonMobil will have a 70 percent stake, while Qatar Petroleum’s affiliate will hold the rest.

The Argentine government issued a statement on Tuesday saying it received offers for the exploration of three offshore oil and gas basins from 13 companies for a total of $995 million. The country’s energy secretariat was expected to confirm which companies were awarded which areas next month.

Qatar Petroleum signed an agreement with Exxon Mobil in June to buy a 30 percent stake in two of Exxon’s affiliates in Argentina, giving Qatar’s state-owned entity access to oil and gas shale assets in the Latin American country.

Exxon has been investing heavily in its U.S. shale operations and in Guyana. Its development in Argentina has been slow due to several reasons, including the geographic remoteness of the country from U.S. shale operations as well as government controls on natural gas prices.

The U.S. oil company also invested in Brazil’s prolific offshore oilfields throughout 2018, clinching numerous blocks in partnership with other companies. Exxon and Qatar Petroleum International landed Brazil’s Tita area, locking in key real estate in the prized Santos basin.

The two companies have also partnered on three of Exxon’s offshore exploration blocks in Mozambique’s Angoche and Zambezi basins.

Reporting by Shanti S Nair in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Eliana Raszewski in Buenos Aires; Editing by James Emmanuel and Dan Grebler