Oman’s Ministry of Oil & Gas is in the final stages of awarding two oil blocks and plans to tender six more for bidding in April, according to minister Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhy.

In a bidding round last year, the ministry received offers from companies interested in developing five blocks.

“We are in the final stages of awarding blocks 54 and 55,” said Al-Rumhy at a press conference in Muscat. “Block 51 is moving positively towards the award.”

He added that companies had been asked to rebid for block 58, while the ministry had received a number of bids for block 65, but the government had not accepted the offers.

Blocks 54 and 55 are in southern Oman between Petroleum Development Oman’s (PDO) concession and the Arabian Sea.

The minister also announced that six blocks – 18, 41, 43, 56, 57 and 59 – would be tendered in April. Last year, block 38 in the far-south of Oman was awarded to US group Frontier Resources and block 66 in the west of the country was awarded to Hungary-based MOL.

There are now 18 upstream companies working in the sultanate’s oil and gas sector on a total of 29 concession areas.

Oman increased its production of crude oil by 4 per cent in 2012 as it continued to improve recovery through enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects.