Areas not awarded in 2003's first round will be up for offer, Espinosa said.
Second rounds blocks cover 84,123 sq km offshore Caribbean and 33,546 sq km offshore Pacific.
Contracts in this latest round will mirror those in the first with up to 4,000 sq km per contract. The contracts' exploration period is six years and 30 years for production.
INE had planned to conclude the pre-qualification phase on October 30, but extended the bidding deadline due to the November 5 presidential election, a fellow hydrocarbons department official said.
A number of companies already have pre-qualified, said the official. Pre-qualification status is valid for two years. The names and number of pre-qualified groups were not disclosed.
The hydrocarbons department, which plans to release an updated bidding timetable in coming days, aims to award the blocks in the second quarter of next year versus the original 1Q07 target, the official said.
FIRST ROUND UPDATE
Five E&P concession contracts were signed for the first round: Industrias Oklahoma Nicaragua picked up 19 Pacific offshore blocks (3,423 sq km); Infinity picked up Caribbean areas in the Perlas (2,291 sq km) and Tyra (3,330 sq km) blocks; and MKJ Exploraciones won areas in Perlas (4,000 sq km) and Tyra (4,000 sq km).
The first round was Nicaragua's first international oil and gas tender since exploration work was suspended in 1979. Previously, 34 wells were drilled, including 26 wells in the Caribbean that did not find oil or gas in commercial quantities.
Industrias Oklahoma Nicaragua soon will begin exploratory drilling, while MKJ and Infinity are working on environmental impact studies, Espinosa said.
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