Mozambique will solicit bids for oil and gas exploration from international firms within the next two years, a senior government official said on Friday.

Once every two years we float international tenders to invite foreign firms to come and search for hydrocarbons in Mozambique, Mario Marques, an adviser to the southern African nation's minister of mineral resources told Reuters.

Mozambique last issued an international tender in October 2009 for exploration of the central province of Sofala including the Inhaminga block covering the districts of Cheringoma, Caia Park and Maringue.

The resource-rich former Portuguese colony has major proven gas reserves, but does not have the technical and financial capacity to exploit them.

Gas was discovered in Mozambique in 1962, when Gulf Oil drilled a successful well in the Pande field in the southern province of Inhambane, but 17 years of crippling war which ended in 1992 had prevented further investment.