BP and Petroperú last week signed six contracts by which BP will conduct pre-exploration activity in the offshore Salaverry basin in waters off the regions of La Libertad and Ancash. The pre-exploration phase will last for two years and will help establish the presence or not of hydrocarbon reserves. Of Peru’s 18 basins, only five have seen exploration and production. BP is ranked number six in the list of world oil companies.

If BP decides to push ahead with full-scale exploration work, it will need to sign a different licensing contract.

Negotiations over the contract have been conducted in secret over the last 18 months so as not to upset fishing interests. Another UK company, Tullow Oil, has signed a similar contract. Earlier this month, the government held events in Ancash to ‘socialise’ the signing of contracts with Tullow.