Of the 30 bids received, the ministry has retained 25 bids for 11 offshore blocks, according to a statement from the Oil Ministry.

The selected companies include the US’ Exxon Mobil, Norwegian state oil company Statoil, Spain’s Repsol and Total of France. Licence awards will be announced on 30 July.

Yemen hopes to use the exploration to increase oil production to 500,000 barrels a day (b/d) from 330,000 b/d in 2007.