Colombia will have a second bidding round to potentially grant contracts to companies interested in exploring non-conventional oil and gas deposits, using techniques like hydraulic fracturing, the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) said.

Majority state-owned oil company Ecopetrol, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Drummond already have contracts for investigative projects and may submit offers in this new round, as can other companies, the ANH said in a statement late Nov. 10.

Development of non-conventional energy deposits—including fracking for shale gas—is highly polarizing in Colombia and commercial development of such deposits is currently not permitted.

Each company can be awarded up to two contracts, the ANH said, and a maximum of four contracts will be granted.

“The purpose of the pilot projects is to acquire sufficient scientific information so a decision about the use of hydraulic fracturing can be made, to take advantage of the potential of non-conventional energy sources,” ANH president Armando Zamaro said.

Ecopetrol has already submitted a proposal which is under evaluation, the ANH said, and the schedule for the second round will be published shortly.