Mozambique’s government awarded six licenses to search for oil and gas and said that exploration work has the potential to drum up about $700 million in investments over the next four years.

Three licenses for offshore blocks were awarded to Exxon Mobil Corp. in partnership with Rosneft OAO, and one goes to a consortium led by Eni SpA that includes Sasol Ltd. and Statoil ASA, the National Petroleum Institute said in a statement posted on its website. Sasol, as well as Delonex Energy Ltd. working with India Oil Corp., were each given onshore rights, it said.

Mozambique wants to attract investments to exploit huge gas finds in the offshore northern Rovuma basin that could help turn the country into the world’s third-biggest liquefied natural gas exporter in a decade. With the global oil sector suffering a downturn, Mozambique is awaiting final investment decisions for development plans.

“The exploration programs proposed for the next four years have the potential to see investments of up to around $700 million, with the opening of a minimum of 10 wells, of which eight will be in deep water,” the institute said. State oil company Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos, or ENH, will have a stake in all the projects, it said.

The fifth bidding round opened in October 2014, and attracted applications for seven of the 15 blocks that were offered. The offshore areas lie in the Angoche Basin and the Zambezi Basin, and onshore in the Mozambique Basin.

“It’s not a bad outcome in a bear market,” Anne Fruhauf, vice president at Teneo Intelligence, said by phone from Johannesburg. The concessions cover previously unexplored areas so “the true potential will not be known until some exploration actually happens,” she said.

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