Guyana's government on Wednesday launched a search for a company to market its share of crude produced at the offshore Liza well, where an Exxon Mobil Corp-led consortium began producing oil in December.
The government is entitled to a share of the oil produced, and has said it was seeking a marketing agent to help it export the crude. In a statement on its website, Guyana's Department of Energy said companies wishing to participate should submit an expression of interest by March 12.
The discovery of oil in the Stabroek block, which is expected to produce some 750,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude by 2025, is set to transform the economy of Guyana, a poor South American country with no history of oil production.
Most of the crude will be lifted by Exxon and its partners, Hess Corp and China's CNOOC Ltd, with the Guyanese government taking the rest. But without any domestic refining capacity or a national oil company, it must sell the crude on the open market.
The government has already tapped Royal Dutch Shell to lift its first three cargoes. The current search is for a longer-term deal for a marketing agent, which Energy Director Mark Bynoe has said could be a commodities trading firm or an international energy company.
According to the statement, the marketing agent would be expected to lift five cargoes of around 1 million barrels each per year, and the duration of the contract would be 12 months. The firm must have at least five years of experience in oil marketing and trading.
The launch of the search comes ahead of a March 2 presidential election in Guyana. The opposition People's Progressive Party has pledged to review oil contracts signed under President David Granger's government should it win the vote.
The Energy Department said it would accept questions from interested parties and post its responses on its website by March 7. It said it would not accept any face-to-face meetings with companies considering a bid.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen, editing by Louise Heavens and Chizu Nomiyama)