The blocks on offer include two – one in the Berkine basin and the other in southeast Constantine – which failed to attract any interest when they were tendered as part of the third international licensing round last year. Other permits offered in the latest round range from acreage in well-known producing basins to frontier areas with no exploration wells and only limited seismic data (MEED 5:7:02).

A meeting will be held in Algiers on 28 May during which technical information about the blocks and the main contractual terms will be presented. The data room will be open from 29 May-30 June after which companies may request clarification meetings.

The bids will be opened publicly on 11 November and awards will be made the same day. The client intends to sign the contracts on 26 November.

Sonatrach and the ministry have launched three international licensing rounds since 2000 and signed 17 exploration contracts as a result.

The bid rounds replace the previous system of often-protracted bilateral negotiations.