Colombian Hydrocarbon Reserves

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Colombia's energy sector is relatively young and has experienced a period of rapid growth in recent years. The size of areas being explored has increased eight-fold since 2003, from 12.5 million hectares to over 100 million hectares in 2011.[1]



According to the BP Statistical Review for 2011, Colombian proven reserves at the end of 2010 stood at 1.9 billion barrels (bbl), representing a rise of 39.1% on the previous year's figures and almost reaching its 1990 level of 2 bbl of reserves. Colombian reserves represented 0.1% of global oil supply.[2]

Colombia's National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) believes that reserves could rise to 4 billion barrels by 2020.[3]

Production Levels

Between 2007-9 Colombia's oil production levels rose 42.8% to reach 801,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2010.[2]

According to Joydeep Mukherji of Standard and Poor's, Colombia is likely to reach its goal of 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in oil output by 2015. The government set a target of 920,000 bpd for 2011, however production reached almost 930,000 bpd in July 2011. According to his analysis, increases in oil and gas reserves since 2007 can be put down to further investment in existing fields rather than from major new discoveries.[4]




According to the BP Statistical Review for 2011, Colombia's proven reserves of natural gas at the end of 2010 stood at 0.1 trillion cubic meters, an estimate which has remained broadly stable since 1980.[2]

Most of Colombia's natural gas reserves are located in the Llanos Basin, however the Guajira basin accounted for the majority of production as of 2011. Natural gas production figures have risen with oil production figures in recent years due to greater investment in existing fields, rising domestic consumption and new export opportunities.[5]

Production Levels

In 2010 Colombia produced just 1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas, with 70% consumed locally and the remainder exported to Venezuela.

However, reflecting on predictions of rising reserves, former ANH Director Zamora claimed that "it's just a matter of time before we are confident enough to move into a totally new stage of our gas industry, which is to open for exports", saying that there could be one or more liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants built in Colombia.[3]

According to the IEA a large proportion of the country's natural gas production is re-injected to aid in enhanced oil recovery.[5]

Unconventional Hydrocarbons

As of early 2012 some shale gas and heavy oil exploration was taking place in Colombia. However the licensing rounds to take place in 2012 were expected to launch investment in unconventional hydrocarbons in the country, where unconventional hydrocarbons were to account for 30% of the areas on offer.[6]

The US IEA estimates that Colombia has technically recoverable shale gas resources of 19 trillion cubic feet, with proven reserves estimated at 4 trillion cubic feet.[7] Colombia's ANH claims that the country could become a significant part of the unconventional gas revolution.[3]

Assessments have put estimated Colombian reserves of Coal Bed Methane (CBM) in the range of 84-480 billion cubic metres. Potential has been indicated in the basins of Bogota, Cauca, Catatumbo, Llanos, Middle Magdalena and Cauca River, and in October 2004 coal miner Drummond announced it would begin drilling for CBM at its Colombian properties.[3]


  1. "Ecopetrol, Colombia’s Quiet Energy Giant" Investor Place, 21 January 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2011" BP, June 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Colombia Predicts a Bright Upstream Future, as Oil Production Rises" Petroleum Economist, 4 January 2010.
  4. "What is the Outlook for Colombia's Oil Sector?" Inter-American Dialogue, 1 August 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Colombia" IEA, retrieved 1 February 2011.
  6. "Open Round Colombia 2012"Deloitte, retrieved 22 January 2012.
  7. "Colombia Readies Unconventional Push" Petroleum Economist, 1 February 2012.