Photo: Map of Equinor's new licenses off Argentina. Source: Equinor

Equinor grabs five exploration blocks off Argentina

Norwegian oil and gas giant Equinor has added seven offshore exploration blocks to its portfolio – five as the operator and two as a partner – after presenting winning bids in the 1st Offshore Licensing Round in Argentina.

The bid round was arranged in Buenos Aires on April 16. Equinor submitted the winning bids for five blocks as operator and also participated in winning bids for one block to be operated by YPF and one block to be operated by Total, Equinor said on Wednesday.

As a result, Equinor will own a 100% interest and operate blocks MLO 121, CAN 108, AUS 105, and AUS 106. Equinor will also operate the block CAN 114 but with YPF as a partner with a 50% interest.

“We are very pleased to succeed in this competitive licensing round and to have added significant prospective acreage to our exploration portfolio. These awards fit with our exploration strategy, providing us with access at scale in basins with high impact potential,” said Tim Dodson, Equinor’s executive vice president for exploration.

“We are looking forward to mature these new opportunities and work together with our partners YPF, Argentina’s leading energy company, and Total, who has long experience from offshore activities in these waters,” said Dodson.

A total of 38 blocks were on offer in the licensing round, the first open bid round for Argentinean offshore acreage in more than 20 years.

Equinor entered Argentina in 2017 and holds a 50% interest in the Bajo del Toro licence (YPF operator, 50%) and is operator with 90 % equity in the Bajo del Toro Este licence (partner Gas y Petróleo del Neuquén, 10%).

In addition to Equinor, oil major ExxonMobil has also won acreage during Argentina’s first offshore bid round. ExxonMobil’s blocks are located in the Malvinas basin, approximately 200 miles (320 kilometers) offshore Tierra del Fuego and include MLO-113, MLO-117 and MLO-118.

Furthermore, Qatar Petroleum has won exploration rights in five offshore blocks in the North Argentina, and Malvinas West basins in Argentina.

Qatar Petroleum won the exploration rights for blocks MLO-113, MLO-117, and MLO-118 in the Malvinas West basin as part of a consortium comprising an ExxonMobil affiliate (operator with a 70% interest) and a Qatar Petroleum affiliate (with a 30% interest). Qatar Petroleum also won the exploration rights for blocks CAN-107 and CAN-109 in the North Argentina basin as part of a consortium comprising an affiliate of Shell (operator with a 60% interest) and an affiliate of Qatar Petroleum (with a 40% interest).