Ukraine has invited bids from potential partners for Black Sea offshore oil and gas exploration areas within the next two months.

According to Ukraine’s official gazette Uryadovy Kuryer, bids were invited for two fields, which include Foroska and Skifska on the country’s Black Sea shelf, on or before 2 August 2012.

"According to the US Energy Information Administration, Europe’s third-largest shale gas reserves are in Ukraine."

With this move, the Ukrainian Government intends to go ahead with its long-term strategy of moving away from reliance on energy imports from Russia.

Russia exports about two-thirds of Ukraine’s gas requirement at a price which has been rising steadily for the last few years and is expected reach about $415 per thousand cubic metres in 2012.

Russia has indicated that it will cut the price of gas for Ukraine only if its Gazprom is allowed to buy into Ukrainian gas pipelines, which carry the majority of Russian gas to Europe.

Russia’s European consumers are concerned over the talks between Moscow and Kiev to review the price, which failed to produce any results after year long discussions.

Ukraine, however, selected Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron Corp to explore and develop two potentially large shale gas fields, as part of its energy strategy.

Shell won the Yuzivska area, which is located in the eastern Donetsk and Kharkiv regions, while the other, Olesska, is in the western Lviv region.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, Europe’s third-largest shale gas reserves are in Ukraine, with a potential of 42 trillion cubic feet.