October 15, 2010 / 3:36 PM / 9 years ago

Colombia says halts oil block auction awards

* Process of authorizing contracts halted

* Minister says doubts only about few blocks

BOGOTA, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Colombia’s Energy Minister Carlos Rodado has said that the process for awarding 76 oil blocks auctioned off earlier this year has been halted, local media reported on Friday.

South America’s No. 4 oil producer hopes to double its crude reserves and boost an already booming sector. Colombia drew investment pledges of more than $650 million at an auction of some 200 oil blocks in June.

“Due to some concerns ... the authorization process of contracts was stopped ... the problem is about a few blocks. The determination must be taken integrally about all 76 blocks that are going to be awarded,” he was quoted as saying by local media.

He did not give further explanation.

In June, Colombia offered three types of blocks: already explored and producing areas, newly prospective basins and acreage in largely unexplored areas to companies.

Companies such as state-run Ecopetrol (ECO.CN), Brazil’s OGX OGXP3.SA, Canada’s Talisman TLM.TO and others were awarded blocks at the conference.

Investment in the country’s oil and mining sectors has nearly quintupled since former President Alvaro Uribe took power in 2002, driving rebels out of resource-rich regions and attracting foreign capital with a pro-investment stance. (Reporting by Jack Kimball; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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