Cairo is preparing to launch a bid round for eight blocks in as yet unexplored waters in the country’s offshore West Mediterranean region (see map). The acreage is just north of Egypt’s prolific Western Desert which contributes 56% of the country’s oil output and 22% of the country’s gas output.

The project is one of three international bid rounds which Cairo hopes to launch later this year. Two of these will focus on frontier acreage: the other is earmarked for the...