European supermajor Shell and US independent Apache have won exploration rights for a trio of blocks offshore Uruguay, as they hunt potential analogies with the prolific Orange basin in Namibia.

Shell and TotalEnergies have made vast discoveries in Namibian deep waters in recent months with the Graff-1 and Venus-1 wells, respectively, prompting the industry to turn its attention to Uruguay, where the geological model suggests their offshore basins have a common genesis.

Uruguay’s state-run company and regulator, Ancap, has awarded three of the six offshore blocks on offer in its 2022 open bid round.