(Bloomberg) -- Mozambique’s oil and gas regulator said exploration contracts for the nation’s fifth licensing round in 2015, which awarded blocks to companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Eni SpA, are close to being finalized.

Winners of the bidding round have awaited a new model for exploration and production concession contracts, which should be resolved by July, Agostinho Rodrigues Chibielo, an official at Instituto Nacional de Petroleo’s exploration division, said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in Ghana’s capital, Accra. Once the contracts have been signed, Exxon plans to drill two wells and Eni at least one next year, he said.

“Important progress has been made and we look forward to concluding agreements with the government of Mozambique,” Exxon said in an emailed response. An Eni spokeswoman wasn’t immediately able to comment.

The prospect of more exploration comes as momentum builds in Mozambique to export some of the biggest natural gas discoveries in a decade. Exxon last year acquired a 25 percent stake from Eni in a block offshore the African nation’s northern coast.

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.

The institute estimated when the blocks were awarded that companies would spend almost $700 million on exploration.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ekow Dontoh in Accra at edontoh@bloomberg.net;Paul Burkhardt in Johannesburg at pburkhardt@bloomberg.net;Matthew Hill in Johannesburg at mhill58@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Herron at jherron9@bloomberg.net, Rachel Graham

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