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Shell, Exxon eye Mozambique gas potential

LONDON, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Some of the world's biggest oil firms including Exxon Mobil and Shell are keen to play a part in developing Mozambique's huge gas fields, an executive from the country's national oil company said on Monday.

Tavares Martinho, exploration director at Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (ENH), told a conference in London there was strong interest in an offering of exploration areas, which he said was due to be announced by the end of the month.

"We are starting to see Shell in Mozambique, yes, not only Shell, all companies, even Exxon Mobil , Chevron

are willing to come to Mozambique and they will be welcome," Martinho told reporters on the sidelines of the conference on Monday.

The gas fields discovered by U.S. explorer Anadarko and Italy's ENI off the coast of Mozambique have thrust East Africa into the limelight as a new hydrocarbon region, attracting the interest of major oil firms.

Shell earlier this year tried and failed to access Mozambique's gas when it was outbid in the race to buy British firm Cove Energy .

Media reports and analysts have since speculated that Shell could now look to buy a stake in some Mozambique gas assets that Cove shares with Anadarko, but Martinho said ENH had not had any notification from Anadarko regarding plans to bring in a new partner.

"They (Anadarko) haven't come yet with the formal letter. If there are negotiations they are on the level of Shell and Anadarko. This is not official," he said.

The upcoming licensing round will offer companies the chance to bid for the right to explore deep water areas in the Rovuma basin, where Anadarko and ENI made their discoveries, and also offshore areas of the Zambezi Delta, Martinho said.

(Reporting by Sarah Young. Editing by Jane Merriman)

((sarah.young@thomsonreuters.com)(+44 20 7542 1109)(Reuters Messaging: sarah.young.thomsonreuters@reuters.net))

Keywords: MOZAMBIQUE/ENH