The bidding exercise to be launched in Houston offering production-sharing contracts for three onshore and six offshore licences, totalling 192,569 square kilometres was announced by the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) Petroleum Authority in the capital Bir Lahlou.
Kamal Fadel, a representative of the authority said: "All contracts preceded by an assurance agreement [are]valid for up to 10 years or until certain conditions have been met."
The first round was held in 2005 when eight licences were awarded to nine companies, currently evaluating the blocks.
The government of the SADR, currently exiled in Algeria , has been in conflict with Morocco for several decades over Western Sahara .
Morocco is encouraging companies to resume the search for hydrocarbons. However, the United Nations has warned against full-scale exploration programmes until the issue of sovereignty is resolved.
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
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