BOGOTA, Dec 1 (Reuters) - 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
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
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)