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Chile's ENAP To Abandon Geothermal Exploration, Development

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES SANTIAGO -(Dow Jones)- Chilean state oil and natural-gas company Empresa Nacional del Petroleo SA, or Enap, has decided to abandon geothermal energy exploration and development in order to concentrate on its core business. Enap, which supplies about 80% of Chile's fuel needs and exports refined products to Peru, Ecuador and Central America, will look to focus on refining, exploration and production of natural gas and oil. "For Enap, this is the culmination of a long process that began in 2000. Our objective was to contribute to the diversification of the nation's energy matrix, by helping to develop geothermal energy development," Enap Chief Executive Rodrigo Azocar said in a statement. Enap now needs to "focus on its core business," said Azocar. On Friday, Enap sold its 40% stake in a joint-venture geothermal-exploration company to Origin Energy Ltd. (ORG.AU). The joint venture is 60% owned by Antofagasta Minerals SA (ANTO.LN). Enap will also sell its participation in the Apacheta geothermal project in northern Chile, which it is developing with the local unit of Italian power utility Enel SpA (ENEL.MI), a person close to the matter said. Apacheta is Chile's most-advanced geothermal project. "We're convinced that Enap's participation in developing geothermal energy in Chile through its joint-venture projects with Enel and Antofagasta Minerals has been key for the development of this type of renewable energy source," Azocar said. In recent years, the government's participation, through Enap and state copper-mining company Corporacion Nacional del Cobre, or Codelco, was key in developing liquefied natural gas. The Andean nation has two regasification terminals, GNL Quintero in central Chile and GNL Mejillones in the north. -By Anthony Esposito, Dow Jones Newswires; 56-2-715-8929;

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