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Dominican Republic launches first licensing round

Caribbean nation looks to bulk up oil and gas exploration efforts

The Dominican Republic on Wednesday officially kicked off its first oil and gas licensing round, placing 14 offshore and onshore blocks up for bid.

The bulk of the tracts up on offer lie onshore, with six in the Cibao basin, three in the Enriquillo basin, and one in the Azua basin. The remaining four blocks are in the San Pedro basin.

The round is intended to expand oil and gas exploration in the Dominican Republic, which currently has no operators searching for new fields, Wood Mackenzie director of upstream consulting Juan Agudelo said in a release. Wood Mackenzie will assist the ministry in evaluating, planning and executing the bid round.

"If the rounds attracts explorers, it will bring investment and help to de-risk the oil and gas potential in the country," he said.

Seismic data for the Enriquillo, San Juan and Cibao basins is held by the ministry, and "recent surface and seismic stratigraphic mapping has clarified the geological story of the area," according to a release. Existing seismic data identifies undrilled prospects in the Enriquillo basin.

Meanwhile, exploration performed in the country since the early 20th century "indicates the presence of a working petroleum system", Agudelo said.

Blocks will be awarded based on work commitments for the first phase of exploration.

"The Dominican Republic is incentivising the acquisition of geological and geophysical data, while providing flexibility to explorers on how to conduct activities during the contract exploration phase," Agudelo said.

"Operators will have between eight to 10 years to explore and must drill one well."

The round will close in December.

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