The state-run company was initially expected to tender the four blocks in June, but oil majors tell MEED that this has now been delayed until late September.

International oil companies (IOCs) say that they will be focusing on three of the blocks, known as A, B and C.

Block A is off the north coast, while blocks B and C are off the east coast near the existing Bul Hanine and Maydan Mahzam production blocks.

The IOCs say there is less interest in Block 4 North, an area of acreage which is also in the northern area and which was originally scheduled to be tendered first.

The Qatar country manager of one international oil major says there is strong interest from all existing operators in the state, in addition to newcomers, such as Norway’s StatoilHydro and the UK’s BP.

“There is a strong buzz about this new acreage, especially the A, B and C blocks,” he says. “We have heard QP is preparing the tender documents and there will be more blocks up for grabs next year as well.”

Although QP is thought to hold existing data on the blocks, little is known about the prospects of the exploration regions. However, they are likely to involve much deeper drilling, at levels of about 15,000 feet.