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Colombia says $2.64 bln in investments pledged in oil auction
BOGOTA Oct 17 (Reuters) - Latin America's No. 4 oil producer Colombia has received investment offers worth $2.64 billion by oil companies seeking to carry out exploration and exploitation projects in the Andean country, the National Hydrocarbons Agency said on Wednesday.
Colombia's oil sector has attracted a flood of foreign direct investment in the last decade, boosting economic growth and export revenues after years of declining crude oil production in the late 1990s.
"The estimated investment in the areas to be awarded ... is of $2.64 billion," the hydrocarbons agency said in a statement.
Adjudication of the blocks is scheduled to take place on Nov. 26, and there will be a second auction on Nov. 28.
The agency said that 115 blocks were offered in the bidding process, including 30 for non-conventional oil exploration and 13 offshore areas. The body said that 37 Colombian and foreign companies took part in the auction and that they are interested in investing in 49 of the areas on offer.
Oil output in Colombia has taken off over the last decade on the back of improved security, better fiscal terms and investments in heavy oil deposits.
Output levels have been increasing rapidly in recent years and the country expects to reach the 1 million barrels per day benchmark before the end of the year, roughly twice the production level of neighboring Ecuador, OPEC's smallest member.
The Colombian government hopes that foreign investment in the oil sector will allow the country to increase oil reserves 20-fold to 41 billion barrels by 2030 in the best case scenario, or at least to 7.7 billion barrels in the worst case. (Reporting By Eduardo Garcia; Editing by Michael Perry)
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