Egypt is assessing offers from international oil companies (IOCs) in two rounds of bids for new oil and gas exploration contracts. Awards are expected in the first quarter of 2010.

Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) and Ganoub el-Wadi Petroleum Holding Company (Ganope) launched tenders in July for 11 exploration blocks in total.

“There was good interest and there should be some awards we hope in the first quarter [of 2010],” says a source source close to EGPC.

EGPC’s round covers eight offshore exploration blocks in the Gulf of Suez. The blocks are West Darag offshore, South Darag, Northwest Abu Zenima, East Ras Budran offshore, Northeast Issran, Northeast Morgan, Northeast Amal and North Ras el-Ush.

Ganope’s bid round includes two onshore blocks in Egypt’s southeastern desert, West Wadi Dib and Wadi Abu Had, and the West Tawila Block offshore in the Gulf of Suez.

The government-run Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (Egas) awarded four out of seven exploration blocks in May in its last licensing round for international energy majors. However, it did not award three other blocks, covering the North el-Mamura, North el-Dabaa and Sidi Barrani fields, because it received insufficient bids.