Somalia is looking for bid submissions by 11 July as the Horn of Africa country's government official announced an offshore licensing round that will open early next year.

Upstream reported on Wednesday that the country would kick off the round on 7 February, which was confirmed by Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Abdirashid Mohamed Ahmed, at the Africa Oil Week Conference in Cape Town on Thursday.

The blocks to be offered are ranged in the Indian Ocean beyond the old concessions currently held under force majeure by Pecten, now Shell.

Ahmed said the government had been in contact with all concession holders, all inactive since the civil war, and urged them to recommence exploration.

Existing concession holders will be encouraged to renegotiate their permits in the form of production sharing contracts, he said.

Upstream reported earlier this week that all the blocks to go on offer have existing 2D data, with Spectrum providing the seismic for the shallow water and UK company Soma Oil & Gas the data for the deep water.

Production sharing contracts are set to figure exploration periods of seven years, which includes a pair of two-year extensions.

Winning bidders will be required to drill at least one well and gather 3D seismic in the exploration period.

In addition, there will be local content requirements, including commitments to training and capacity building, use of in-country services and the workforce as well as $200,000 per block for community development.

A second round is also envisaged later next year, which will cover acreage off Puntland to the north. Authorities are in the process of negotiating a deal for seismic to be shot there, starting with 2D, after which the round may materialise.

In total, Somalia is looking to offer 20 blocks, with two close to – although not abutting – the maritime boundary with Kenya to the south.

Ministry sources said Soma will have to submit bids for acreage it is interested in and will have to meet the same requirements as other bidders in order to win the blocks.