March 26, 2019 / 4:49 PM / a month ago

Shell sells 40 pct of Colombian offshore blocs to Noble Energy

BOGOTA, March 26 (Reuters) - Shell has sold 40 percent of its participation in two offshore oil exploration contracts in Colombia to Noble Energy, which will also operate the blocs, the government said on Tuesday.

Colombia recently modified contractual terms for offshore exploration and launched a permanent bidding process in an effort to boost its long-stagnant oil sector.

Neither the companies nor the national hydrocarbons agency (ANH) shared financial details of the deal for Noble's involvement in the Caribbean COL-3 and GUA OFF-3 blocs, which cover more than ​​880,000 hectares.

The ANH has previously said investment in the first development phase for the two blocs will hover around $100 million. Shell signed the contract for them earlier this month.

"This is a serious bet by two great companies on the potential of Colombian offshore," ANH President Luis Miguel Morelli said in a statement.

Colombia has some 1.78 billion barrels of reserves, equivalent to about 5.7 years of consumption, but wants to increase that to cover at least 10 years.

The Andean country produces about 860,000 barrels per day of crude, half of which is for export. (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb Editing by Helen Murphy and Bernadette Baum)

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