China's Bohai Bay

China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has invited foreign exploration companies to bid for 26 more offshore blocks in China.

This is the second round of joint development tenders announced by the state-owned oil and gas company.

In June 2012, nine offshore blocks in the western area of the South China Sea were put up for bidding.

The auction includes 22 blocks located in the South China Sea, three in the East China Sea and one in northern China’s Bohai Bay.

Beijing Petroleum Exchange senior analyst Bai Bing was quoted by as saying the tender is the largest since China began offshore exploration in the 1990s.

CNOOC is also continuing to expand its business including its refining capacity.

"Strengthening its upstream, exploration and production will help ensure the supply in its downstream, sales and distribution businesses," Bing said.

The company first started drilling in the South China Sea in May 2012, prior to which the nation conducted drilling operations to depths of around 300m only.

British oil companies are expected to have more interest in the latest tenders, owing to their offshore exploration experiences in the deep waters of the North Sea.

Image: Investors will bid for an offshore block in the Bohai Bay. Image courtesy of: Kmusser.