Egypt has awarded seven oil and gas exploration blocks in deals worth a total of $187m, which should see 29 new wells drilled in the country.

Five of the blocks are located in Egypt’s Western Desert and were awarded to Tunisian oil company HBS, Canada-based TransGlobe and Italy’s Edison, according to a statement released by the Petroleum Ministry on 19 September.

German oil and gas company RWE won two offshore exploration blocks in the Gulf of Suez, next to three other fields already operated by the company.

The newly granted licences bring the total implemented foreign investments in oil research activities, exploration and development up to about $8bn, according to the Petroleum Ministry.

Egypt is currently struggling to ramp up domestic oil and gas production amid its worst gas shortage in decades.