Prospecting authorizations shall apply to areas not covered by a petroleum contract. They shall be granted to natural or Legal persons by decision of the Minister in charge of hydrocarbons laying down the conditions, after the technical opinion or the public body duly mandated to that effect.
Prospecting authorizations shall confer on their holders the non-exclusive right to carry out preliminary prospecting within a specified area. They shall not constitute hydrocarbon-mining titles and shall not be transferable or assignable.
Prospecting authorizations shall not confer on their holder any right to obtain a Hydrocarbon mining title or to enter into a petroleum contract.
The above provision notwithstanding, and where exceptional circumstances so require in particular for special petroleum operations zones, a prospecting authorization may, during its validity period, confer a preferential right on its holder to conclude a petroleum contract on equivalent terms and conditions within all or part of the same area, or an exclusive right of limited duration to enter into a petroleum contract for all or part of the area.
Prospecting authorizations shall be granted subject to third-party rights.
The State may also grant prospecting authorization solely for technical information collection purposes.
Several prospecting authorizations may be granted concurrently for the same area.
Subject to the provisions of Section 27(4) of the petroleum code, the State may at any time, sign a petroleum contract on all or part of the area for which a prospecting authorization has been granted. Such authorization shall automatically elapse with regard to the area concerned, without the prospecting authorization holder being entitled to compensation.