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Hungary Invites Bids for Oil, Gas, Geothermal Exploration

PRAGUE, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Hungary has invited bids from both foreign and domestic companies for seven new exploration licenses, four for hydrocarbons and three for geothermal exploration, as it looks to ease dependence on imports.

The hydrocarbon licenses will be in southeastern Hungary near existing fields, and the geothermal licenses are in the eastern and southeastern parts of the country, the national development ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The licenses do not specify the type of hydrocarbons, but they cover a flat area of Hungary near existing oil and gas fields.

The ministry said it would announce the winners within 90 days following a Nov. 15 deadline to submit bids. The oil and gas concessions will be valid for 20 years and the geothermal ones for 35 years with extensions possible, it added.

Hungary imports most of its supplies from Russia.

In May, MOL, the biggest Hungarian oil and gas company, said its average production in the first quarter fell 18 percent to 109,900 barrels of oil equivalent per day from 134,100 during the same period a year earlier. The figures excluded Syrian output after MOL's Croatian unit INA suspended operations there early last year.

The decrease was mainly due to the natural depletion of mature central European and Russian fields, MOL said.