(Reuters) – Colombia’s government must promote exploration and production of hydrocarbons or face the end of self-sufficiency in both oil and gas by 2028, the country’s private oil producers association said on Monday.
Colombia’s oil and gas industry is a major source of income and foreign exchange for Latin America’s fourth-largest economy. The government of President Ivan Duque – whose term ends in August – has pushed to grow the Andean country’s dwindling reserves.
Policies that keep hydrocarbon exploration and production at current levels will ensure Colombia’s self-sufficiency in oil and gas for at least a decade more, the Colombian Petroleum Association (ACP) told journalists.
It would also bring in investment and income of 84 trillion pesos ($20.7 billion) and 105 trillion pesos ($25.9 billion) respectively during the next government, it added.
However, weakening exploration and production will cause oil and gas output to drop by 47% and 27% each during the next five years, as well as bring in 34 trillion pesos less in investments and income, and could make the country need to import gas from 2026 and oil from 2028, the association added.
“Colombia has the resources to be self-sufficient in matters concerning (oil and gas),” ACP president Francisco Lloreda said during the conference.
“If what’s happening in Europe teaches us anything, it’s that self-sufficiency is key,” Lloreda added, referring to the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine on European energy.
Colombians head to the polls to vote for the country’s next president later this month, with leftist front-runner Gustavo Petro vocal about the need to replace reliance on oil and gas for renewable energy sources.
Though the ACP would not comment on the outcome the election could have on the country’s energy sector, a policy of weakening exploration and production of oil and gas in Colombia would end the industry, it said.
“It will condemn an industry that has been built up in Colombia for more than 100 years to not only languish, but to destruction,” Lloreda said.