State news agency Saba on Sunday quoted Yemen’s oil minister Ahmed Dares as saying that 45 foreign firms had presented applications to bid for the blocks, of which nine are onshore and 11 offshore. Of the 45, only 18 had qualified to bid.
The auction aims to increase Yemen’s oil and gas output through foreign investment, Dares was quoted as saying.
According to Reuters, the 18 firms include Hunt Oil and Gas, Norway’s DNO , Circle Oil, Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company, Pakistan Oilfields, Dana Gas, France’s Total, Austria’s OMV, UAE-based Crescent Petroleum and Pakistan Petroleum.
The qualified firms will now review the technical information available about the 20 blocks, the minister said.
Yemen is a small producer with proven oil reserves of about 3 billion barrels as of 1 January 2013, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Oil reserves and production are sourced from two areas, the Marib-Jawf basin in the north, and Say’un-Masila basin in the south. The government has estimated the Masila basin holds about 84% of the total.
The impoverished country is struggling to tame insurgency and rebuild its economy after years of conflict.
Its oil and gas exports have been repeatedly disrupted by attacks on pipelines by Islamist militants or disgruntled tribesmen since anti-government protests created a power vacuum in 2011. This has led to fuel shortages and a sharp reduction in revenues.