Iran may award up to five exploration and production (E&P) contracts to some of its national oil companies (NOCs), with the first deal expected in the coming months, Reuters reported.

The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) could sign an exploration and development contract with the Negin Afagh Kish Energy Development Company (TENCO) for the Toudej oil block in two months. “Within a year, three or four exploration blocks will be developed by local firms,” said Saleh Hendi, the Head of Exploration at NIOC.

Tehran’s move to depend on NOCs comes as a result of international oil companies (IOCs), including Total, suspending their investments in Iran due to the US-reimposed sanctions.