Colombia's National Hydrocarbons Agency, or ANH, has awarded 49 oil exploration and production blocks in an auction and said it expects the winning bidders to invest some $2.6 billion over the next six years.

Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol won the rights to 12 blocks, seven in partnership with other companies such as ExxonMobil, Spain's Repsol, Royal Dutch Shell, Colombia's Hocol and Norway's Statoil.

Other companies that won rights to blocks - either singly or as part of consortiums - include Perenco, Pluspetrol, Andes Argentina, Integra Oil & Gas, Gulfsands Petroleum, OGX, C&C Energy, Optima Range, Petroleos del Norte, Petroleos Sudamericanos, ONGC Videsh, Clean Energy Resources, Anadarko, Vetra and Petroleum Equipment, the ANH said on its Web site.

A total of 100 blocks were on offer in the Colombia Round 2012 and 105 bids were submitted for 49 of them, while those blocks that did not attract bids will be re-auctioned on Nov. 28, the ANH said.

Only six of the awarded blocks are located offshore and none of those is located near the San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina archipelago, a region affected by an International Court of Justice ruling establishing new maritime boundaries between Nicaragua and Colombia.

Colombia is currently Latin America's fourth largest oil producer after Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil.

The South American country, which has roughly 2.2 billion barrels of proved oil reserves, produced an average of 914,000 barrels per day last year and says it hopes to raise that output to 1 million bpd by year's end. EFE