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Reuters: Shell among companies interested in Peru oil concessions

Fri May 25, 2007 1:30 AM BST

LIMA, (Reuters) – Anglo-Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile , Research) is among 37 companies to have expressed an interest in bidding for oil exploration concessions in Peru, the government said on Thursday.

Shell sent a letter of interest to the Peruvian government, said Daniel Saba, head of state agency Perupetro, adding however: “We don’t know if they will finally take part yet”.

Saba declined to name the other 36 but said they were all large or medium-sized companies.

Companies have until June 8 to enter the bidding process for the 19 concessions and the results will be announced on June 12, Saba said, adding he expected the number of bidders to rise as the deadline neared.

Saba played down complaints by environmentalists that the granting of the concessions threatened indigenous communities in the Amazon rainforest, where much of Peru’s oil reserves lie.

“I don’t think there’s any big conflict (with the communities,” he told reporters. “Rather, there’s a lot of propaganda.”

Earlier this month, one group of indigenous Peruvians filed a class action suit against U.S. company Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY.N: Quote, Profile , Research), claiming environmental damage dating from its oil production in the area between 1975 and 1999.

The group said it would contest any further concessions granted to oil companies.

Peru is a net importer of oil but is developing fields near its northern border with Ecuador, and the government has said it hopes to transform the country into a net oil exporter within the next two years.

Last year, Perupetro signed 16 contracts for oil exploration and extraction, more than in any previous year.

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