Algiers has awarded three out of a possible ten oil and gas exploration and production licenses after its eighth bid round on 20 December, a source at the country’s Energy & Mines Ministry tells MEED.

A consortium led by French energy firm Total won the license to develop the most attractive area, Ahnet in the southwest of the country, which contains seven different exploration and production blocks, the source says. It is believed to contain large volumes of natural gas.

A consortium led by Spain’s Repsol won the second license, to develop the South East Illizi basin on the Libyan border in the southeast of the country. The area is thought to contain large deposits of both oil and gas.

The last license was awarded to China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) the source says. This deal covers the Hassi Bir Rekaiz area in eastern Algeria. This block contains mainly oil reservoirs.

The source at the energy ministry declined to comment on the likely value of the contracts and says that the remaining seven blocks were not awarded because of a lack of interest.

Algeria’s seventh international oil and gas licensing round also ended in disappointment on 13 December 2008, when just one quarter of the concessions originally planned for the round attracted bids (MEED 11:1:09).