The ministry has submitted its recommendation to the cabinet and is waiting for approval, which is expected in November, the source said.
Tenders for onshore and offshore blocks will be launched simultaneously and interested parties will have 3-4 months to prepare bid documents.
The four onshore blocks that make up this year's tender are: Central Range, Herrera, Southwest Peninsula and Guayaguayare. Three of the blocks are entirely onshore, while the fourth will straddle onshore and offshore areas. An offshore area known as Southwest Marine, which currently belongs to state oil company Petrotrin, and another offshore area known as S-11 will be tendered as part of the Southwest Peninsula block, the source said.
The offshore bidding round consists of three blocks.
The north coast marine blocks 2 and 3 are located off the northwest coast adjacent to UK company BG's gas producing areas, the source said. These blocks are located in 300-400ft of water.
The third block, known as 2AB, is off the eastern coast. This is the second time the ministry has tried to award an exploration contract for block 2AB, which was not awarded in the 2003-2004 bid round because the ministry felt it did not receive satisfactory bids.
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