Italy's Eni was among those to secure bids to explore new blocks for fossil fuels in Mozambique and off its Indian Ocean coastline.

Maputo - Exxon Mobil, Italy's Eni and South Africa's Sasol have won bids to explore new blocks for fossil fuels in Mozambique and off its Indian Ocean coastline, a source told Reuters on Thursday.

The companies won the bids in Mozambique's fifth oil and gas round issued by the Institute of National Petroleum (INP) to explore a total of 15 blocks in 74 259 square kilometres.

The blocks on offer include three new areas of the northern Rovuma Basin, where Eni and US oil major Anadarko Petroleum 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.

Reuters