Pakistan has awarded 41 oil and gas exploration licences to companies including Eni, BP and Pakistan Petroleum to help increase investment in the country’s energy sector.

Petroleum Ministry special secretary GA Sabri said that successful bidders would be given licences within 15 days, Bloomberg reported.

Of the 53 blocks offered by the government, companies bid for 41 blocks.

Sabri said that the licences would bring in $175m in initial investment and that the 12 blocks that did not attract investment were potentially high-risk areas.

Pakistan has set a $15bn investment target to expand its oil and gas sector in five years to bolster growth and help it recover from the economic slump, a former government adviser said in July, according to the news service.

Pakistan’s biggest gas producer, Pakistan Petroleum, secured 13 licences, while the country’s biggest explorer, Oil & Gas Development, was awarded six.

BP and Pakistan Oilfield won two licences each and Eni was awarded one, Bloomberg reported.

Sabri said that Eni, BP and Oil & Gas Development’s licences would be used for exploration activity off Pakistan’s coast.