Bogota: A total of 37 domestic and foreign companies bid a combined $2.64 billion for 49 Colombian oil blocks, mines and energy minister Federico Renjifo said Thursday. He said the National Hydrocarbons Agency, or ANH, received the bids as part of the Colombia Round 2012 bidding process.

The auction has been “a resounding success, of the greatest significance for the country”, Renjifo said in an interview with Caracol Radio, noting that several of the bidders are companies new to Colombia and all have “superior standards” relative to requirements in previous auctions.

The 37 companies submitted bids Wednesday for 49 of the 115 blocks on offer, the minister said.

The ANH will hold a new bidding process for the blocks that received no bids, he said, noting that the interest by oil companies has already eclipsed that of previous rounds.

He said that in previous bidding processes some 200 blocks were offered but bids were only received for 30 percent of them.

The 115 blocks on offer in the Colombia Round 2012 – most located onshore – cover an area of 16 million hectares.

Renjifo said seven companies submitted bids for offshore blocks, none of which are located in Caribbean waters whose sovereignty is disputed by Nicaragua.

With the Colombia Round 2012, Colombia is planning to meet and surpass its goal of producing 1 million barrels of oil per day.

The Andean nation, which currently produces a daily average of 900,000 barrels, is Latin America’s fourth-largest crude producer after Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil.