Brazil is set to put frontier acreage on offer as the country's National Petroleum Agency (ANP) set the date for its latest licensing exercise under the concession regime.

The ANP has scheduled the 17th oil and gas licensing round for 7 October next year.

The auction will feature a total of 92 exploration blocks spread across 11 sectors in four offshore sedimentary basins — Campos, Pelotas, Potiguar and Santos.

In a board meeting on Thursday, the regulator decided to merge six blocks located in ultra-deep waters beyond the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) into two tracts.

“During the review of the 17th round timeline, the ANP identified the need to reconfigure blocks in a given sector in the Santos basin in light of new geological studies through the incorporation of recently acquired 3D seismic data,” said ANP interim director general Raphael Moura.

The agency merged blocks S-M-1617, S-M-1619, S-M-1729 and S-M-1731 into a single permit, and also unified blocks S-M-1613 and S-M-1615 in one structure.

“The actions increase the attractiveness of these blocks, avoiding potential unitisation,” said Moura, adding minimum signature bonuses for the two licences will be revised.

These two blocks, now known as S-M-1617 and S-M-1613, are partially located beyond the EEZ, which was established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to give countries especial rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources.

An EEZ stretches from the baseline out to 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) from the coast, although the treaty allows the possibility of extending the area further if it is proven there is a natural continuity of resources beyond the continental shelf.

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Brazil’s National Council for Energy Policy (CNPE) is due to meet next month to sanction the new date for the 17th round.

After the CNPE approval and a 60-day public consultation, the ANP meets one more time to give the final green light for the auction, explained Moura.