Colombia’s minister of mines and energy said the country has invited Chinese companies to bid for exploration rights to energy projects, the South China Morning Post reported. Hernan Martinez said he had been in discussions with China National Petroleum Corp, China Petrochemical Corp and Sinochem during a visit to Beijing. Colombia, the fourth-largest oil producer in South America, hopes to increase production of gas and oil by 50% in six years, and has taken steps such as reducing royalties and allowing foreign firms to hold 100% stakes in oil projects. The country produced 618,000 barrels of oil a day last year. Chinese firms have been invited to bid on 170 exploration blocks covering a total of 50 million hectares.