Egyptian General Petroleum Corp. said its international oil and natural-gas bidding round closing date was extended by two months until the end of March after potential bidders requested more time for evaluation.

The tender drew interest from new foreign companies that want to start work in Egypt as well as from companies already operating in the North African country, said Adel Kamel, the company’s deputy chief executive officer for agreements.

“The deadline was extended on request of the companies as they need more time to evaluate the blocks,” Kamel said by telephone from Cairo.

The state-run company invited bids in September for 15 onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration concessions in the first such move since July 2009. The bid round is part of an effort by the Egyptian government to attract foreign investment needed to boost the economy after a popular uprising toppled then-President Hosni Mubarak in February. Egypt holds Africa’s sixth-largest oil reserves, with 4.5 billion barrels, and the continent’s third-biggest gas reserves, with 78 trillion cubic feet, according to data from BP Plc.

Source: Bloomberg