An IOC executive based in Doha tells MEED that at least six firms have submitted bids for Block 4 North, off the north coast. It is the first of four gas blocks which the state-run firm is tendering to oil majors.

While several large oil companies declined to submit bids, most of the companies with existing operations and exploration work in Qatar are understood to have lodged bids.

The three other gas fields still to be tendered include another off the north coast and two blocks off the east coast (MEED 30:5:08).

Although the blocks are not located in Qatar’s prized north field, the executive says each will receive strong interest given the uncertainty over when the state will lift the current moratorium on further exploration in the north field.

Qatar first imposed the moratorium in 2006, saying it wanted to give its engineers time to conduct a detailed study of the structure of the reservoir. The study was due to be completed in 2010 but this may now be delayed until 2013.