Colombia’s oil production rose to its highest level in a decade in September with output of 798,000 barrels per day (bpd) up 17.4 percent from a year ago, the National Hydrocarbons Agency said on Thursday.
Oil investment has boomed in Latin America’s No. 4 oil producer since a U.S.-backed security crackdown in 2002. The Andean nation is trying to boost crude output to 1.5 million bpd in the next few years.
Output from state-run Ecopetrol and associates gained nearly 16 percent last month to 720,000 bpd, the oil agency said. The country has averaged around 775,000 bpd this year, up from 671,000 bpd in 2009, it said.
Colombia’s oil output has averaged more than 15 percent year-on-year growth this year and has been on a firm upward trend since 2007 after leveling out earlier this century. Colombia boosted oil output mainly through technical measures including higher recovery factors, but also through commercial development of key fields.
Former President Alvaro Uribe attracted more investment by loosening regulations, creating a streamlined hydrocarbons agency, lowering taxes and improving security drastically.
Colombia had about 2 billion barrels of proven petroleum reserves at the end of last year, the agency said. It said total gas sales rose to 1.11 billion cubic feet per day last month versus 1.02 billion cubic feet daily in September 2009. Colombia’s energy ministry said it would interrupt natural gas exports to neighboring Venezuela for a month starting in mid-November to expand and carry out maintenance on gas infrastructure.
Colombia, once dismissed as a failing state mired in drug violence and guerrilla war, has had a more than five-fold increase in foreign direct investment in its petroleum sector as instability from the four-decade conflict has eased.
The country received $1.3 billion in foreign direct investment in the oil sector in the first half of 2010 compared to $449 million in 2002, central bank figures show. Energy Minister Carlos Rodado said in August that oil and gas production would rise to an average of 1.4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in 2014 from around 980,000 boepd at the end of 2010.
Ecopetrol will be in charge of a major part of that output with the company — Colombia’s largest oil producer — planning to invest $80 billion between 2011 and 2020. (Jack Kimball / Reuters)