Russia's LUKOIL eyes bid in Vietnam oil/gas blocks

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Russia's No.2 crude oil producer LUKOIL said it is considering bidding for exploration in more oil and gas blocks offshore Vietnam after acquiring the first block in the Southeast Asian country's northern area.

"LUKOIL participates in biddings," said Natalia V. Chekhronova, a public relations official with LUKOIL Overseas Holding Co, told Reuters in a written response.

She did not specify the blocks the Moscow-based firm was eyeing, saying applications for bids and the number of blocks were still confidential information.

In August, state oil and gas group Petrovietnam launched the 2011 licensing round for nine offshore oil and gas blocks, including blocks 43, 03, 10/11, 41, 11-2/11, 05-3/11, 50, 22/03 and 12/11 in Nam Con Son, Phu Quoc and Malay-Thochu basins.

The licensing round, which lasts between Aug. 1 and Jan. 5, 2012, is the Hanoi-based group's first since 2007 and the most in recent years. Bids will close on Dec. 9 and winners will be announced in January.

An industry source confirmed LUKOIL has taken steps to participate in the bidding, but said the Russian firm has yet to send an official bid.

LUKOIL has acquired the Hanoi Trough 02 block offshore the northern city of Haiphong from Quad Energy, becoming the fourth Russian firm to invest in Vietnam, after Zarubezhneft, Gazprom and TNK-BP.

The firm would drill three wells by early next year and 12 locations could have promising oil deposits, Aleksander Nekhaev, Director of Lukoil Overseas Vietnam, has said in Hanoi.

A senior Petrovietnam official said last month that Russian oil and gas firms are expanding their presence in Vietnam with three operating firms -- Gazprom, Zarubezhneft and LUKOIL -- while TNK-BP is in the process of taking over assets newly acquired from its shareholder BP Plc.

TNK-BP also said in October that its subsidiary, TNK Vietnam, had received the investment license from Vietnam's Ministry of Investment and Trade to operate offshore gas Block 06.1, part of the Nam Con Son Integrated Gas to Power Project.

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