ADEN, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Yemen has allowed 18 international oil firms to bid for 20 onshore and offshore blocks in the sixth auction issued by the Oil Ministry, the state news agency Saba said on Sunday.
Saba quoted Ahmed Dares, Yemen's oil minister, as saying that 45 foreign firms had presented applications to bid for the blocks, of which nine are onshore and 11 offshore.
Of the 45, only 18 had qualified to bid.
The auction aims to increase Yemen's oil and gas output through foreign investment, Dares was quoted as saying.
The 18 firms include Hunt Oil and Gas, Norway's DNO , Circle Oil, Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (Kufpec), Pakistan Oilfields and Dana Gas .
The list also includes France's Total, the Austrian oil and gas group OMV, UAE-based Crescent Petroleum, and Pakistan Petroleum.
The qualified firms will now review the technical information available about the 20 blocks, the minister said.
Yemen is a small producer with proven oil reserves of around 3 billion barrels as of Jan. 1, 2013, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Oil reserves and production are sourced from two areas, the Marib-Jawf basin in the north, and Say'un-Masila basin in the south. The government estimates the Masila basin holds about 84 percent of the total.
The impoverished country is struggling to tame insurgency and rebuild its economy after years of conflict.
Its oil and gas exports have been repeatedly interrupted by attacks on pipelines by Islamist militants or disgruntled tribesmen since anti-government protests created a power vacuum in 2011. This has led to fuel shortages and a sharp reduction in revenues.
(Reporting By Mohammed Ghobari; Writing By Maha El Dahan; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
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