Mozambique’s National Petroleum (INP) expects to sign new oil and gas prospecting contracts by early 2017 with the companies awarded rights to test for hydrocarbons across the country, with an estimated $30b invested in the country’s natural gas sector, Reuters reported.

The contracts will be concluded within 2 to 4 months with the companies that have been granted the blocks, informed Ecofin Agency. Upon the signing of these contracts, the winning bidders would then start searching for oil and gas.

Mozambique has some 85Tcf of gas reserves. However, analysts say it will likely take at least five years after final investment decisions before gas production begins. Accordingly, in a fifth round of competitive bidding for Exploration and Production Concession Contracts, INP awarded four blocks offshore Mozambique to oil majors ExxonMobil, Rosneft and Eni.

In 2014, Mozambique launched 15 new offshore and onshore areas for gas and oil exploration and production in its northern, central and southern regions. The blocks include three new areas of the northern Rovuma Basin, where U.S. oil major Anadarko Petroleum Corp and Italy’s Eni are already developing multi-billion-dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects.