Oil Production in Colombia
Colombia is the fourth largest country in South America and the third largest oil producing nation in the region (after Venezuela and Brazil).According to the Oil & Gas Journal, Colombia Colombia has 2.3 billion barrels of proved crude oil in reserves. While the country has produced oil since the 1980s, 2003 regulatory reforms paved the way for new development, exploration, and foreign investment. Production grew until 2013 when it leveled off to around 1 million b/d (this figure includes natural gas liquids).
As we go into 2017, Colombia exports around half of its oil production, accounting for up to 20-30 percent of the nation’s total exports. Most of it goes to the United States. In fact, in 2015, the United States imported 370,000 b/d of crude oil from Colombia.
Most crude oil production in Colombia takes place in the eastern Amazonian jungles and foothills of the Andes. Meta Department, a district in the central part of the country, produces significant amounts of heavy crude oil, while the largest producing oilfield in the country, the Rubiales oilfield, located in the Llanos basin of central Colombia.
Who Owns Colombia’s Oil?
Prior to 2003, all oil development was controlled by Ecopetrol, the state-owned oil company. After suffering from declines in reserves and production, a regulatory agency was installed and opportunities were opened up to private sector investors. In 2014, Colombia’s central bank estimated $4.8 billion in foreign direct investment in the nation’s oil sector.
Pipelines in Colombia
There are 7 major Colombian oil pipelines. Five of them connect production fields to a Caribbean export terminal located at Coveńas. The largest pipeline, the 520 mile Ocensa line, can transport 590,000 b/d. There are some indications that China may opt to finance infrastructure projects that will bring oil to Colombia’s Pacific coast for export.
There are five refineries in Colombia, all of them owned by Ecopetrol. The largest of which, the Barrancabermeja-Santander facility, has a capacity of 205,000 b/d.
The Future of Colombia’s Oil Industry
Experts predict that Colombia’s output will remain steady around 1 million b/d for the next few years. Ecopetrol plans to expand Colombia’s refining capacity, while an expansion project at the Cartagena refinery will increase its current capacity twofold. Also contributing to its growth is the Barrancabermeja facility, which will increase that refinery’s capacity and make it easier for heavier crudes to be processed.
While low oil prices have kept production from increasing over the last couple of years, Colombia plans to remain viable through increased efficiency and new technologies.