Libya is to invite international tenders for exploration of its onshore and offshore natural gas reserves in the next few days, said the North African country’s oil supremo.
National Oil Company president Shukri Ghanem said that a dozen contracts will be allocated to foreign companies to explore 41 gas blocks in the sea and in the Sirte basin, 500 kilometers (310 miles) east of Tripoli, in the central southern Murzuq basin and at Ghdamess, 700 kilometers south of the capital.
Details of the blocks, varying in size from 2,000 to 10,000 square kilometers (700 to 3,800 square miles) will be presented to interested parties in August in Tripoli and later in London, he added. Allocation of the blocks is expected in December.
Ghanem said that it is the fourth time that Libya has invited tenders for exploration of its vast hydrocarbon reserves, but the first time for natural gas exploitation.
OPEC member Libya is the African continent’s second largest oil producer at 1.7 million barrels per day. It also has natural gas reserves estimated at 1,314 billion cubic meters (46,403 billion cubic feet).
Tripoli at the end of May signed a $900 million exploration deal with BP under which the British energy giant will explore an area of some 54,000 square kilometers primarily for gas, but also in the hope of finding oil. The agreement applies in the Sirte region and at Ghdamess.
With the end of UN sanctions after Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s dramatic decision in December 2003 to abandon weapons of mass destruction programs, oil and gas exploration in the North African country has picked up at a frenetic pace. 
"It’s a race for our black gold," Ghanem recently said. "We are organizing it like the Olympic Games and may the best one win."

(Middle East Times)