Egypt's state-owned Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) has postponed the closing date for international companies to present their bids for 15 oil and gas concessions due to weak interest in the tender.
The new deadline is 13 February, three months down from the original deadline 14 November, as per the company's website, without elaborating. EGAS had announced the offer in June for the exploration blocks in the Mediterranean and Nile Delta basins - all but two of which are the more-expensive-to-explore offshore.
Oil Minister Osama Kamal revealed Monday on a late night talk show that the extension of the deadline was due to poor interest from international companies.
"The interest wasn't at the level that we wanted," Kamal said on the programme The Last Word broadcasted by privately-owned Egyptian channel ONTV.
EGAS officials were not immediately available for comment when contacted by Reuters.
Kamal added that a previous concession that had been abandoned by Royal Dutch Shell in 2011 was on offer in the bidding.
The NEMED concession, which lies off the Nile Delta, was relinquished after Shell spent 10 years trying to prove the presence of gas that could be exploited. Shell said at the time it was not commercially viable for it to continue with the project.
Kamal said that the NEMED concession was broken up into several blocks in the new bid round and that the amount the government would pay to buy the gas discovered there would be taken into consideration this time.
"The price for selling gas that was offered to our partners at the time was not feasible for them,
"We will take into consideration the difference in price in this new tender," Kamal said.
Another state-owned firm, Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC), is due to announce the results of its latest round of bidding some time this week, around seven months after the closing date.
The closing bid for that tender has also been pushed. The new deadline is 29 March, from 30 January, to allow more companies to take part.
Some 25 bids have been received from international oil firms for the 15 concessions on offer, an EGPC official told Reuters.