Exploration authorizations attached to petroleum contracts shall be either hydrocarbon exploration permits, in the case of concession contracts, or exclusive exploration authorizations, in the case of production sharing contracts or risk service contracts.

Exploration authorizations shall be granted by decree of the President of the Republic. However, the signing of a petroleum contract shall be considered as granting of the exploration authorization subsequently materialized by a decree of the President of the Republic to establish the granting of such exploration authorization.

Exploration authorizations shall confer on their holders the exclusive right to carry out, at their risk and expense, hydrocarbon prospecting and exploration within the limits of the relevant area, except as may be otherwise provided for in the petroleum contract.

Exploration authorizations shall also confer on their holders the right to dispose of their share of hydrocarbons that could be extracted during exploration and production tests, subject to prior approval by the Minister in charge of hydrocarbons.

Exploration authorizations shall be granted for an initial maximum period of three (3) years. However, such period may be extended to a maximum period of five (5) years in the case of a special petroleum operations zone.

Exploitation authorizations shall he renewable twice for a maximum period of two (2) years each. Holders may file an application for renewal of their authorizations following the required procedure in accordance with renewal terms and conditions laid down by decree, provided that they have fulfilled the obligations of the current validity period. Such renewals shall be granted by decree of the President of the Republic.

Subject to the provisions of(S) above and of Sections 39 and 126 of the petroleum Code, the duration of the exploration authorization and that of the two (2) renewals may not exceed seven (7) years, or nine (9) years for special petroleum operations zones.

During the initial period and where applicable during each renewal period, the exploration authorization holder shall undertake to implement the minimum exploration and expenditure programme provided for in the exploration authorization and stipulated in the petroleum contract.

The exploration authorization holder shall provide for consideration by the Minister in charge of hydrocarbons or any public body duly mandated to that effect a bank guaranty or a parent company guaranty covering the agreed minimum works programme.

The bank guarantee referred to above must be provided by a banking

establishment selected from among institutions with at least an “AA” rating or its international equivalent or an equivalent rating approved by the monetary authority.

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