Oman’s Oil & Gas Ministry has launched a bid round for five blocks located onshore and offshore in the sultanate. Local and international oil companies have been asked to submit proposals for the blocks by 31 October 2014.

Block 18 is located in the North Sohar Basin off the north coast of Oman, bordering on UAE territory. The 21,140 square-kilometre (sq km) block was relinquished by India’s Reliance Industries in 2011, after an unsuccessful exploratory drilling campaign.

The other offshore area on offer is the 40,488 sq-km block 59 lying off the sultanate’s central eastern coast, which has not been significantly explored outside of a 2D mapping.

Three onshore blocks are also on offer, including block 54 located between majority-state-owned Petroleum Development Oman’s (PDO’s) block 6 and the central coast. The 5,632 sq-km area also borders US-based Occidental Petroleum’s producing Block 53 Mukhaizna field.

Block 43A is a 6,879 sq-km area located in the mountains on the inland border with the UAE, while the 2,277 sq-km block 58 is situated inland in the far south of Oman.

The Oil & Gas Ministry regularly tenders open blocks under exploration and production sharing agreement (EPSA) bid rounds.

In December 2013, the ministry signed a production sharing agreement with France’s Total to develop Block 41 – a 23,850 sq-km area off the northern coast, with water depths ranging from 30 to 3,000 metres.

The contract signed with Total has two phases. For the first phase, the company will conduct studies and for the second phase, it will drill a test well. The total investment envisaged for both phases will be about $133m.

Meanwhile, Oman-based Petrogas signed a deal for onshore Block 55, which spans 7,564 sq km.

In 2012, Block 38 in the far south was awarded to the US’ Frontier Resources and Block 66 in the west was awarded to Hungary-based MOL.