(Adds details of tender from Department's website, comment on reason for delay)
March 11 (Reuters) - Guyana has extended the initial deadline in its search for an agent to market its share of oil produced by an Exxon Mobil-led consortium to March 24, the Department of Energy said on Wednesday.
Guyana has no domestic refining capacity or national oil company and must sell the crude on the open market.
Commodities trading firms and international oil companies had been required to submit expressions of interest by March 12. The government has tapped Royal Dutch Shell to lift its first three cargoes but is looking for a longer-term deal for a marketing agent.
The extension was prompted by "enormous requests by interested firms" and "force majeure circumstances" in the South American country, said Phillip Bryan, the department's procurement officer, in a statement to Reuters.
The move comes as results of a March 2 presidential vote have been delayed amid accusations of fraud. A court on Wednesday ruled that the country's largest electoral district must continue counting votes before a winner could be declared.
Bryan said he was referring to "disruptions to normal civil operations in anticipation of the ruling by the Court."
The opposition People's Progressive Party (PPP), which is challenging President David Granger, has said it will review oil contracts signed under his tenure, which began in 2015. Guyana has no history of oil production, and the PPP has said the terms of the contract with Exxon are too generous to the company.
Most of the crude will be lifted by Exxon and its partners, Hess Corp and China's CNOOC Ltd, with the Guyanese government taking the rest. Oil production at the consortium's offshore Stabroek block began in December.
Separately, the department said it expected the 12-month contract for a marketing agent to begin in June, with the first cargo lift in July, in a list of responses to questions submitted by interested companies posted on its website on Wednesday.
The department said it is planning on shortlisting no more than 20 of the companies that submitted expressions of interest, who would be invited to submit requests for proposals - the next stage of the process - by the end of April. (Reporting by Luc Cohen and Marianna Parraga; Editing by Leslie Adler, Richard Chang and Cynthia Osterman)