The government has not seen the need to launch formal bidding for the available blocks. Instead, interested companies can approach the department to review available information, Cho said. The blocks are in deeper, offshore areas.
There is a possibility Japan's Japex Geoscience Institute (JGI) may help update and verify offshore oil data, including the 4-5 blocks, he said. JGI is helping Honduras with similar work.
Seven production-sharing agreements have been signed to date and there are six applications pending for different blocks - not including the 4-5 vacant ones, the official said.
Belize Natural Energy (BNE) currently is the only company producing oil in the country, roughly 3,000b/d, as well as further exploratory work, said Cho, adding that the bulk of oil is exported and only 4-5% remains in Belize. Much of the crude is exported to the US, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
BNE was the first company to find a commercial oilfield in Belize in the country's 50-year exploration history.
In May, Latin American and Caribbean infrastructure financing firm CIFI committed US$5mn as part of a US$30mn credit facility to help BNE develop a recently discovered oil field of 25M-50Mb sweet crude, BNamericas reported previously.
Other companies in advanced E&P stages are Allan Oil carrying out exploratory drilling and US Capital Energy conducting seismic work, Cho said.
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