South Sudan has launched the country’s first oil and gas licensing round to accelerate exploration and production at new and existing blocks.

The country is seeking bids for five blocks from foreign investors and partners.

The Ministry of Petroleum (MoP) of South Sudan noted that nearly 90% of the country’s oil and gas reserves remain unexplored.

The ministry noted that it has compiled ‘crucial data’ that will be shared with interested investors, operators and counterparties.

The first licensing round is for Block A2, Block A5, Block B1, Block B4, and Block D2. The size of blocks range between 4,000km² and 25,000km², with most comprising between 15,000km² and 20,000km².

South Sudan Petroleum Minister Puot Kang Chol said: “Oil licensing is a proof of stability and progress in South Sudan. These blocks are part of a vision for lasting peace in the country and we want to open up the energy sector for investment.

“We are inviting genuine investors and as mentioned in our Petroleum Act, we will try our best to be transparent.”

South Sudan Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Athian Ding Athian said: “The oil industry has had its ups and downs, but it is about time that these resources benefit the community, and everyone gets their rightful entitlement of the development that is taking place in South Sudan.”

Currently, three consortia are operating producing blocks in South Sudan while four other oil exploration companies purchased production sharing contracts.