Ukrainian authorities have unveiled ambitious plans to auction licences for oil and gas blocks this year following sweeping changes in legislation aimed at stoking competition among players on the domestic gas market and easing access to European hubs.

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Ukraine’s state geological and subsurface agency Derzhgeonadra opened the auctions for four assets earlier this week, following the eventual approval of production sharing agreements for eight gas tracts with domestic producers and an international investor earlier this year.

According to the agency, it has started to register bids for the Scherbakovsko-Shurupiyiskaya, Luchkovsko-Berezovskaya and East Kosmatskaya blocks and the Yuliyivskoye field via state-run online tendering platform Prozorro.

Auctions for the four assets are scheduled to take place on 21 April, with bids accepted any time up until 20 April.

Based on initial assessments for each block, the auctions could generate over 90 million hryvna ($3.2 million) of revenues to the country’s budget.

Derzhgeonadra chairman Roman Optimakh told Upstream that the agency is finalising plans to auction more blocks later this year.

The agency also hopes investors will revive their interest in the Olesska block, which was awarded in 2013 to Chevron of the US and has significant gas resources in deep tight layers.

Located in western Ukraine, the block covers more than 6300 square kilometres and is now in hands of state-owned Nadra Ukrainy following the withdrawal of Chevron in 2014.

Potential investor in Olesska will have to partner with Nadra Ukrainy under a production sharing agreement, Optimakh said.

He added that the agency is also working on facilitating online access for investors to interactive maps with mineral resource blocks.

According to Optimakh, another goal of the agency is to improve communication between licence holders and authorities.

The so called e-cabinet — currently under development and set to start operating before the end of the third quarter — will offer various options for an investor such the extension of duration of its licence and modification of boundaries, the reporting of geological works conducted and implementation other changes and notifications.

The government has also drafted amendments to legislation in a bid to introduce transparent rules of access to mineral resources and permit the open-market sale of valid licences for oil and gas fields, Optimakh said.