The Executive Director of Petrobras Argentina, Alberto Guimarães, said that Petrobras is awaiting authorization from the Argentinean government to begin exploratory activities in two more blocks, raising to 20 the total number of areas in which the state company operates in that country.
Unlike the current 18 blocks in which Petrobras is already active, all of them on land, these two are at sea, near Bahia Blanca. The start of exploration depends only upon the Argentinean government’s authorization.
With an increasingly significant presence in Argentina, especially after the acquisition of Perez Companc, which is now Petrobras Argentina, the Brazilian state company has already invested US$ 4 billion in the neighboring country.
Petrobras intends to invest an additional US$ 1.4 billion between 2004 and 2007, 65% of which will be in the area of exploration and petroleum and gas production.
Guimarães said that Petrobras currently produces 186 thousand barrels/day in Argentina, but this production is concentrated on land.
“Now the company wants to direct its activities toward petroleum exploration in ocean areas. Although the ocean in Argentina presents numerous difficulties, it greatly resembles the Campos Basin,” the director commented.
The Campos Basin is Brazil’s largest petroleum region, located off the northern coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro and responsible for around 70% of Brazilian petroleum production.
The Brazilian Development Bank (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social) (BNDES) reported in May that it was setting aside US$ 1 billion for infrastructure projects in Argentina over the next three years.
According to BNDES vice president, Darc Costa, by next year the bank should be financing at least five projects in Argentina (repairs on two railroads, a gas pipeline, a steel mill expansion and a biogenetic study).
In other news of BNDES international activities, the bank has already released US$ 600 million for infrastructure in Venezuela, out of a promised US$ 1 billion.
The Venezuela and Argentina financial assistance projects are part of the Brazilian government’s objective of speeding up South American integration.
Translator: David Silberstein