* Eleven companies awarded contracts
* Noble Energy, Chevron consortium wins 2 blocks
(Adds detail throughout)
By Emma Farge
GENEVA, July 19 Sierra Leone has provisionally
awarded contracts to 11 companies including U.S. firms Noble
Energy and Chevron Sahara to explore for oil in
eight offshore blocks, a government statement showed.
Oil exploration has been booming in West Africa following
Tullow Oil's discovery of the Jubilee field in Ghana but it is
still unclear whether nearby Sierra Leone, still recovering from
a war that ended in 2002, has commercial quantities.
Chevron Sahara, Noble Energy and Odye together won two
blocks and will join companies like Canada-based Talisman Energy
and Russia's LUKOIL already present in the country.
The following companies were also awarded a stake in the
offshore blocks: African Petroleum Corp, Kosmos, Elinilto Ltd,
Signet Petroleum, Minexco, Masters Energy, Chevron Sahara, Noble
Energy, Odye, GNBH Sierra Leone Exploration and Vadara Petroleum
The government said it received 59 applications for the
blocks which formed part of the West African country's third bid
Some blocks were oversubscribed -- such as block SL 4A-10
awarded to African Petroleum Corporation and Kosmos -- and one
block SL 10A-10 received no bids, it added.
The results follow the award of oil contracts in Niger and
Kenya in the past few weeks.
(Reporting by Emma Farge, editing by William Hardy)