Colombia Oil And Gas Profile
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Most Recent Updates


  • Colombia has seen a dramatic increase in oil production in recent years following a period of steady decline. The Colombian government has enacted a series of regulatory reforms to make the sector more attractive to foreign investors.
  • In addition, it has implemented a partial privatization of state oil company Ecopetrol in an attempt to revive its upstream oil industry. The security situation in the country also has improved over the last decade, with fewer attacks against oil and natural gas infrastructure in recent years.
  • Expanded oil production will require further investment in transport infrastructure and refining capacity.


  • 1994 - Energy and Gas Regulatory Commission (CREG) Formed
  • 2003 - The restructuring of Colombian hydrocarbons sector took place, with the creation of the National Hydrocarbons Agency


  • Since 1999, Colombia's government has taken measures to make the investment climate more attractive to foreign oil companies. Upstream sector initiatives include allowing foreign oil companies to own 100 percent stakes in oil ventures and compete with Ecopetrol, the national oil company; the establishment of a lower, sliding-scale royalty rate on oil projects; and longer exploration licenses.
  • In 1994 the government through laws 142 and 143 created regulatory commissions including Energy and Gas Regulatory Commission (CREG)
  • In 2003 the restructuring of Colombian hydrocarbons sector took place, with the creation of the National Hydrocarbons Agency
  • The government plans to sell shares of Ecopetrol to private investors, reducing their share to roughly to 80 percent. The reforms have sparked a renewed interest in Colombia's upstream sector, with record levels of exploratory and development drilling occurring in 2010. According to Colombian central bank, the oil sector received $2.86 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2010, which partially offset FDI losses in the mining sector.
  • In June 2010, Colombia conducted its latest oil sector bidding round, which included 228 exploratory blocks. The round featured both known hydrocarbon-rich areas as well as frontier regions, such as offshore blocks in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. However, the ANH only awarded 76 total licenses in well-established areas in the round


  • According to Oil and Gas Journal (O&GJ), Colombia had 1.9 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves in 2011, the fifth-largest in South America. These reserves are expected to increase with the exploration of several new blocks that were auctioned in 2010.
  • The country produced an estimated 800,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of oil in 2010, up from 686,000 bbl/d in 2009. This trend has continued in 2011. Most recently at the time of writing, the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) reported that Colombian production reached 923,000 barrels per day in May 2011.
  • The bulk of Colombia's crude oil production occurs in the Andes foothills and the eastern Amazonian jungles. Meta department, in central Colombia, is also becoming an important production area, predominately of heavy crude oil.
  • The largest field in the country is the Rubiales Oil Field, located in Meta department. Low levels of production began at Rubiales in the late 1980s, but increasing investment and the completion of a new pipeline have allowed production rates to rise in recent years. Production at Rubiales exceeded 170,000 bbl/d in 2011, up from only 12,000 bbl/d in June 2007. According to the Colombian government, the field could contain 500 million barrels of total reserves. The crude oil produced at the Rubiales field is very heavy, so a diluent (such as naphtha) must be added to it in order for the crude oil to flow through pipelines.
  • According to OGJ, Colombia had proven natural gas reserves of 4 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) in 2010. The country produced 370 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of dry natural gas in 2009, while consuming 307 Bcf. A large portion of the country's gross natural gas production is re-injected to aid in enhanced oil recovery. The bulk of Colombia's natural gas reserves are located in the Llanos basin, although the Guajira basin accounts for the majority of current production. Similar to the oil sector, natural gas production has risen substantially in the last few years, owing to greater investment at existing fields, rising domestic consumption, and new export opportunities
  • Chevron is the largest natural gas producer in the country. The company operates the offshore Chuchupa Gas Field in the Guajira basin, the largest non-associated natural gas field in the country. The company also operates the nearby onshore Ballena and Riohacha fields.
  • The two biggest natural gas fields in the country, Cupiaga and Cusiana fields in the Llanos basin, were acquired from BP by Ecopetrol and Talisman Energy in 2010. Almost all of the gas produced from these fields in re-injected. The Colombian government published a decree in March 2011 outlining a plan to increase domestic natural gas production, including production from unconventional gas fields.
  • Policies aimed at expanding domestic natural gas consumption and exports, combined with increased demand from the power sector due to weather-related hydroelectricity shortages, have made expanding natural gas production a priority for the government.

Active Companies

  • Ecopetrol is the largest oil producer in Colombia. Seventy international oil companies also participate in the upstream sector.
  • Chevron is Colombia’s largest producer of natural gas
  • Brownstone has earned (or is earning) a 25% working interest in the Canaguaro Block, a 34.25% working interest in Block 27, a 35% working interest in Block 21, and a 14% working interest in Block 36.
  • PetroMagdalena is a Canadian-based oil and gas exploration and production company with working interests in 19 properties in Colombia
  • Amerisur is currently working on two projects – Platanillo and Fénix
  • Pacific Rubiales is the largest independent oil and gas exploration and production company in Colombia

Crude Oils


Oil Pipelines

  • Colombia has six major oil pipelines, four of which connect production fields to the Caribbean export terminal at Covenas. These include the 500-mile Ocensa Oil Pipeline, which has the capacity to transport 615,000 bbl/d from the Cusiana/Cupiagua area; the 460-mile Caño Limón – Coveñas Oil Pipeline; and the smaller Alto Magdalena and Colombia Oil Pipeline.
  • The Llanos Orientales Oil Pipeline came online in late 2009, which links the Rubiales field to the Ocensa pipeline. The system will eventually have a capacity of 260,000-bbl/d.
  • The sixth pipeline, the TransAndino Oil Pipeline, transports crude from Colombia's Orito Oil Field in the Putumayo basin to Colombia's Pacific port at Tumaco; TransAndino can also carry crude oil produced in Ecuador.
  • In November 2010 Ecopetrol announced that it is partnering with an international consortium to develop the Oleoducto Bicentenario Pipeline. The $4.2 billion project will have a capacity of 450,000 bbl/d and is scheduled for completion in December 2012.

Gas Pipelines

  • There are some 2,000 miles of natural gas pipelines in Colombia. Empresa Colombiana de Gas (Ecogás) operates most of Colombia's natural gas pipeline network. The three main lines include the Ballena-Barrancabermeja, linking Chevron's Ballena field on the northeast coast to Barrancabermeja in central Colombia; the Barrancabermeja-Nevia-Bogota line, which integrates the Colombian capital into the transmission network, and the Mariquita-Cali line through the western Andean foothills
  • Export Pipeline
  • In early 2008, the Antonio Ricaurte Gas Pipeline came online, linking northeastern Colombia with Venezuela. Initially, the pipeline allows Colombia to export natural gas from the Punta Ballenas area to western Venezuela. Current plans call for the flow of the pipeline to then be reversed in 2012, with Venezuela exporting 140 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of natural gas to Colombia. While initial contracted volumes for export from Colombia ranged from 80-150 MMcf/d, actual exports to Venezuela have often exceeded these levels due to rising demand in Venezuela for natural gas for power generation and re-injection



  • According to OGJ, Colombia had 290,850 bbl/d of crude oil refining capacity in 2010. The country has five major refineries, all owned by Ecopetrol.
  • The 205,000 bbl/d Barrancabermeja-Santander facility and the 80,000 bbl/d Cartagena refinery represent most the country's capacity. Ecopetrol assumed complete ownership of the Cartagena plant after purchasing the stake formerly held by Glencore.
  • Although Colombia is a net oil exporter, it must import some refined products especially diesel fuel, as domestic demand outstrips refining capacity. As a result, Ecopetrol has begun efforts to expand refining capacity in the country. The company approved a $3.8-billion expansion of the Cartagena refinery in late 2009, which will increase capacity to 165,000 bbl/d and improve the quality of domestically produced refined products.
  • Ecopetrol is also embarking on an expansion plan at the Barrancabermeja plant, which would increase its capacity to 300,000 bbl/d and improve the refinery's ability to process heavier crude oils

Relevant Links

  1. National Hydrocarbons Agency
  2. Perspectives of Colombian Oil & Gas
  3. Energy and Gas Regulatory Commission (CREG)
  4. EIA, Colombia
  5. PetroMagdalena
  6. Brownstone Energy
  7. Amerisur, Colombia
  8. Pacific Rubiales

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