Colombia received bids for 30 blocks from seven companies during its latest oil and gas auction, the government said on Wednesday, as the Andean country looks to maintain energy self-sufficiency amid a drive to develop renewable sources.
The bids have a combined estimated investment value of just over $148.5 million.
Colombia counts on the oil and gas industry as a major source of income and foreign exchange but, with just 6.3 years of proven oil reserves and 7.7 years of gas, the government is pushing to grow resources in both.
The result means Colombia will beat its target of awarding between 10 and 15 oil and gas blocks this year, as well as the government of President Ivan Duque's aim of signing 50 contracts during its term.
"Today we can tell the country we have achieved 69 areas," Mines and Energy Minister Diego Mesa said during a press conference, referring to the new bids and 39 blocks awarded in previous auctions.
Parex Resources placed more than half of the bids during Wednesday's meeting, while Colombia's majority state-owned oil company Ecopetrol and its own subsidiary, Hocol, bid on five blocks.
Other companies that placed bids included Lewis Energy, Maurel & Prom, Frontera Energy, and CNE Oil & Gas, which is owned by Canacol Energy.
The government had put forward 28 blocks for bidding ahead of the auction, while the oil and gas industry had nominated a further 25 areas for consideration.
A total of 17 companies were approved to take part in the auction.
The received bids reflect an improvement on last year's auction when, in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic, Latin America's fourth-largest economy signed just four hydrocarbon contacts with two companies.
The next stage of the licensing round will take place on Dec. 16, when companies can present counter-offers for blocks that have received bids.
(Reporting by Oliver Griffin Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
Below is a video from February 2021, showing the blocks that were on offer as part of the licensing round.