Oil Majors Eyeing Offshore Yemen Blocks

DUBAI, Jan 8, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)

ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM) and Total S.A. (TOT) are among 25 companies that have qualified to participate in Yemen's first offshore bid round covering blocks spanning the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden areas, the country's oil ministry said Tuesday.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY) and Gaz de France (1020848.FR) are also among the companies prequalified to bid for the 11 offshore blocks later in the year, the oil ministry said in an emailed statement.

Other companies in the race for the blocks include Repsol YPF S.A. (REP), StatoilHydro ASA (STO) and Hungarian oil and gas company MOL NYRT (MOL.BU), the ministry said.

The offshore concessions are set to be awarded on July 30, according to the ministry.

Yemen, one of the Middle East's poorest countries in terms of per capita income and located in the southwest of the Arabian Peninsula on the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, has seen oil production fall in recent years as existing fields mature and few new ones have been brought on stream.

In the past six years, the country has been battling a decline in crude oil production, which has seen output fall 16% from a record high of 438,501 barrels a day in 2001 to 365,722 million barrels a day last year.

In the first half of 2007, production dropped further to 328,019 barrels a day, according to oil ministry data.

Yemen hopes that with international oil firms' expertise it will be able to recover some of the country's more difficult reserves, especially those in deep offshore waters.

DUBAI, Jan 8, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)

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