Russian authorities have opened the bidding for 25-year exploration and development licences for three large gas blocks in the Yamal-Nenets region, located close to assets operated by country’s largest gas independent Novatek and state-run monopoly Gazprom.

According to the country’s subsurface management agency Rosnedra, the first in line is the South Seyakhinsky block.

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The block, occupying about 1700 square kilometres, lies on the Yamal Peninsula next to the two fields which Novatek has designated as a source of feedstock natural gas for its first blue hydrogen and ammonia project, known as Obsky Gas Chemistry Complex.

Three prior exploration probes drilled at the South Seyakhinsky block did not confirm the presence of commercial hydrocarbons, Rosnedra said, but promoters of the acreage cite seismic data supporting estimates of possible in-place resources of about 120 billion cubic metres of gas, mostly located in three previously identified structures.

A second block on offer in the same area is South Nilivoysky that spans about 1500 square kilometres.

Although prior exploration was unsuccessful, possible in-place resources of this block are still estimated at about 127 Bcm of gas.

The tract lies next to the Nilivoysky block that is owned by Moscow-based Novokhim, a privately-held investment vehicle reportedly controlled by former Russian energy minister Igor Yusufov via his Energia Fund.

Novokhim also controls another block, Malotambeysky, that is located next to the Novatek-led Yamal LNG project.

However, the operator has been moving slowly with exploration of these two tracts, expecting the development of neighbouring assets by Novatek and Gazprom to provide better access to supporting and transportation infrastructure.

Both South Seyakhinsky and South Nilivoysky tracts may have to rely on the port of Sabetta on the Yamal Peninsula — operated by Yamal LNG — to deliver necessary drilling rigs, equipment and supplies to drilling sites.

A third block to be auctioned is West Malyginsky that clearly falls on the Gazprom’s radar.

The tract is located next to the Malyginsky and Skuratovsky blocks, licences for which have been held by the gas giant since 2016.

West Malyginsky has the largest area against the two other tracts, taking over 3800 square kilometres on the Yamal Peninsula, with estimated possible in-place resources of over 730 Bcm of gas.

According to Rosnedra, potential bidders should submit their applications and pay a deposit by end of the day on 17 December, with the actual auction to be held on 18 January.

Also to be auctioned on this date is an exploration and development licence for the Svetlogorsky 2 block that occupies about 3000 square kilometres in the Krasnoselkup district in the mainland of the Yamal-Nenets region.

Svetlogorsky 2 is located next to the Vorgensky block that is being developed by Noyabrskneftegaz, a regional subsidiary of Russian state controlled oil producer Gazprom Neft.

Possible in-place resources of this tract have been estimated at meagre 105 million barrels of oil and 74 Bcm of gas.