The relinquished area is spread over two areas in the southeast and southwest of the sultanate, covering enough exploration acreage for about four blocks. The Ministry of Oil & Gas will take about two months dividing the two areas into the defined blocks and obtaining seismic data from PDO before opening a data room to international oil companies. An international bidding round for the new concessions is expected to be launched by year-end.

The acreage handed over to the ministry is largely underexplored, although there are some non-operational wellheads and infrastructure in place. The blocks are understood to hold good oil and non-associated gas prospects.

PDO’s concession over block 6, covering most of the sultanate, was extended in December to 2044. It last relinquished acreage – mainly in the west – to the government in 1995. The concessions derived from this acreage were subsequently licensed to other operators.

In early May, the US’ Occidental Petroleum Companyand Abu Dhabi government-owned Liwa Petroleumsigned a heads of agreement with the government to take over the Mukhaizna field, which was previously part of the block 6 concession (MEED 6:5:05).