MAPUTO, July 30 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil, Italy's Eni and South Africa's Sasol are among the firms that submitted bids to explore new blocks for fossil fuels in Mozambique and off its Indian Ocean coastline, a senior official said on Thursday.
A total of fifteen blocks in some 76,800 sq km were included in the fifth licensing round for which the Institute of National Petroleum (INP) closed bidding on Thursday.
The successful bidders will be announced "within the next 2 to 3 months" INP chairman Arsênio Mabote said.
Nine companies in total submitted proposals for the blocks on offer including Canoverseas, Troisade, Total, Namoza, Delinex, Petrolinvest, Exxon, Eni and Sasol.
The blocks on offer include three new areas of the northern Rovuma Basin, where Eni and U.S. oil major Anadarko Petroleum Corp are already developing multi-billion-dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects.
Mozambican officials expect more than $30 billion will be invested initially in the natural gas sector to build capacity to produce 20 million tonnes per year of liquefied natural gas (LNG), with first exports due to start in 2018.
The southern African nation is hoping revenue from its large natural gas deposits and its fledgling coal mining industry will help it emerge from years of poverty and aid dependence. (Reporting by Manuel Mucari; Writing by TJ Strydom; Editing by James Macharia)