China's Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) said Thursday in a published statement that it received 152 bids for 19 of 20 shale gas blocks offered through a tender process which opened last month.
The deadline for the submission of bids on Thursday saw a total of 83 companies that qualify for the tender process. This is the first time that China has opened its tender process to foreign companies. China had conducted a first shale gas block auction in June last year which was limited only to state-owned companies.
The MLR said that it will be moving into the evaluation phase of the auction process.
Of the 20 blocks: five lie in Guizhou, three in Chongqing, five in Hunan, two in Hubei, one in Jiangxi, one in Anhui, one in Zhejiang and two in Henan. The blocks span 7,723 square miles (20,002 square kilometers).
Under the MLR's regulations, each block requires a minimum of three bids to in order to officially qualify for the auction. One of the blocks received only two bids, and hence, it was dropped out of the auction process.
The MLR also stated that bidding firms must be reigstered in China with a minimal capital of $47 million (CNY 300 million). In addition, the firms must also already hold oil and gas licences. Exploration permits will be awarded for three-year terms, and the winners must start exploration within six months of the award.
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