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Abu Dhabi launches second bid round for five major exploration blocks

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) announced – as part of Abu Dhabi’s block licensing strategy and on behalf of the Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) – the details of the second round of five new geographical oil and gas blocks open for bidding for both conventional and unconventional resources.

The successful bidders will enter into agreements granting them exploration rights and, provided that defined targets are achieved in the exploration phase, will be granted the opportunity to develop and produce any discoveries, under terms that will be set out in the bid package.

Abu Dhabi’s five new blocks open for bidding – three of which are offshore and two onshore – are known as Offshore Block 3, Offshore Block 4, Offshore Block 5, Onshore Block 5 and Onshore Block 2, with the latter offering two separate licensing opportunities for conventional and unconventional oil and gas, respectively. In total, the five blocks comprise an area of approximately 34,000 sq km.

This second licensing bid round follows the conclusion, in March, of the award of the blocks in Abu Dhabi’s debut competitive exploration and production bid round, which covered and area of approximately 30,000 sq km and generated significant interest from prospective international bidders, reinforcing the international community’s confidence in the UAE’s trusted and reliable investment environment. 

The blocks in the first licensing bid round and this second bid round collectively cover approximately two-thirds of Abu Dhabi’s territory, marking a major advancement in how Abu Dhabi is accelerating the exploration and development of its huge untapped resource potential, outside the immediate production areas.

The second licensing bid round offers new areas with significant amounts of conventional and unconventional oil and gas potential. In addition, one of the blocks offered – Offshore Block 3 – is, area-wise, the largest block offered by Abu Dhabi in both the 2018 and 2019 block bid rounds, with an area of more than 11,000 sq km. 

“The launch of Abu Dhabi’s second licensing bid round builds on the momentum of the first and very successful competitive bid round,” said His Excellency Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and ADNOC Group CEO. “It demonstrates how ADNOC’s expanded approach to partnerships is enabling us to utilize value-add partnerships and smart technologies to drive new commercial opportunities and efficiently accelerate the exploration and development of Abu Dhabi’s untapped resources, in line with the leadership’s directives.” 

“This second bid round provides the next major opportunity for both new and existing partners, with best-in-class exploration technology and expertise, to join us in further unlocking Abu Dhabi’s substantial hydrocarbon resources in the UAE’s trusted and reliable investment environment. It signals both Abu Dhabi’s and ADNOC’s ongoing drive to realize the potential of our resource base to remain a long-term and reliable energy provider to the world,” Dr Al Jaber added.

Following new and encouraging results from the ongoing unconventional exploration and appraisal activities in Onshore Block 2, it was decided not to award an exploration license for the block in the first bid round and to continue to appraise the unconventional potential in the area. After completing the appraisal of the unconventional potential, Onshore Block 2 area has been expanded to the east, which more than doubles its initial total area. The block is now offered in this second bid round, whereby potential bidders can bid for either the conventional or unconventional resources in the block as separate licensing opportunities – or both. 

The licensing opportunities of Onshore Block 2, Onshore Block 5, Offshore Block 4 and Offshore Block 5 will be awarded in concessions to successful bidders, under terms that will be set out in the bid package.

Offshore Block 3 – which overlaps, in certain geographical areas, with existing concessions already granted to international oil companies – will be awarded to explore exclusively for potential gas in deep geological formations and potential oil in various formations, outside the existing concession areas.

Based on existing data from detailed petroleum system studies, seismic surveys, exploration and appraisal wells data, estimates suggest the blocks in the second bid round hold multiple billion bbl and multiple trillion cu ft of natural gas.

Some of the blocks already have discoveries and, within the combined geographical area of the second bid round blocks, there are 290 targeted reservoirs from 92 prospects and leads. 

ADNOC has established a dedicated website – – where the company provides information on the blocks as well as a portal where interested bidders can register to participate, subject to a strict prequalification process undertaken by ADNOC.

The website also contains details of a roadshow, to be held in Abu Dhabi, in which technical and commercial information on the new blocks will be provided.

After the roadshow, bidders will confirm their participation through an Expression of Interest and will be able to access a comprehensive data package on the five new blocks. The data package will include full bidding instructions and regional geological information, in addition to well and seismic data, in both raw and interpreted form, on all five blocks.

Registration is open to companies with suitable expertise and technology that can contribute to accelerating the exploration and development of new conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon opportunities in Abu Dhabi.

The closing date for the receipt of bids will be at the end of November 2019, after which ADNOC will evaluate the bids, using the criteria set out in the bidding instructions. The SPC will award the successful bidders. 

In April 2018, Abu Dhabi offered a set of major offshore and onshore blocks for competitive bidding as part of its first-ever block licensing strategy.

Following the first bid round, Offshore Block 1 and Offshore Block 2 were awarded in concessions to a consortium led by Eni and PTTEP; Onshore Block 1 was awarded in a concession to Bharat Petroleum and Indian Oil; Onshore Block 3 was awarded in a concession to Occidental Petroleum; and Onshore Block 4 was awarded in a concession to INPEX.

The UAE is the world’s seventh-largest oil producer, with about 96% of its reserves within the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Located in one of the world’s largest hydrocarbon super-basins, there remains undiscovered and undeveloped potential in the numerous stacked reservoirs.

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