The Ugandan Ministry of Energy announced that the country aims to sign deals by the year-end with the four oil exploration companies it had invited for talks in its first licensing round, informed Reuters. The four companies selected to negotiate production sharing agreements (PSA) are Nigeria’s WalterSmithPetroman Oil Ltd, Oranto Petroleum International, Niger Delta Petroleum Resources, and Australia’s Armour Energy Ltd.

Uganda launched its first round in February 2015 for six exploration blocks, covering a total of 3,000 sq. km. Bidding documents were granted to 16 oil firms, but only seven had submitted bids, reported Ecofin Agency.

Uganda first discovered crude oil in 2006 in the Albertine rift basin along Uganda’s border with Democratic Republic of Congo. It has estimated reserves of 6.5 b barrels, of which 1.4b to 1.7b is recoverable. Moreover, in April, Uganda stated it would build an oil pipeline oil through Tanzania rather than Kenya in order to secure the export route. The country also expects to identify a lead investor for a $4b refinery by the end of 2016.