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Guatemala Opens 7 Areas to Oil Exploration to Boost Production

Guatemala will open seven new sites to oil exploration bids as Central America’s biggest crude producer struggles to reverse declining output.

Guatemala, which shares its northern border with Mexico, will open up nearly 800,000 hectares (2 million acres) for exploration and will discuss offers with interested companies over the next three months, according to a statement posted on the Finance Ministry’s website. The winning bidders will be announced early next year.

Oil production in Guatemala has fallen to 10,000 barrels per day from 30,000 barrels per day over the last 30 years, according to Energy and Mining Minister Erick Archila. Central America’s biggest economy intends to increase production to 80,000 barrels per day by 2022, he said in a July 12 interview.

At least 80 companies, including Colombia’s Ecopetrol SA and Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp., have requested information about the exploration options, according to the ministry. The government is also in talks with Vancouver-based Ivanhoe Energy Inc. to construct a refinery to process the country’s heavy petroleum, Archila said.

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