Colombia explores potential natural gas and crude imports from Venezuela

Patricia Laya and Oscar Medina, Bloomberg November 20, 2023

(Bloomberg) — Colombia is studying whether to import natural gas and light crude from Venezuela to cut fuel costs.

The Andean nation is also considering participating in oil exploration in Venezuela, Colombian Energy Minister Andrés Camacho said. 

“We’re exploring the possibility for Ecopetrol to directly explore for gas and hydrocarbons in Venezuela,” Camacho said Monday, in an interview on Blu Radio. 

His comments follow President Gustavo Petro’s visit with Nicolás Maduro in Caracas on Saturday, where Petro said it was “very likely” that Colombia’s state oil company Ecopetrol SA would become a partner of Petroleos de Venezuela SA in production for oil and natural gas. 

Colombia’s interest would mark a shift in Petro’s policy to wean his nation off fossil fuels. In Colombia, his government has declined to award any new oil exploration licenses and has also opposed new oil-exploration contracts overseas. 

The U.S. lifted some sanctions on oil and gas operations in Venezuela last month after the Maduro government and the opposition agreed to work on a deal for better electoral conditions.

As recently as August, Camacho had said the country was not considering importing gas from Venezuela. The two countries are connected by a 139-mile pipeline that connects Venezuelan gas fields with northeast Colombia, though it would need significant maintenance to function. 

Colombia’s natural gas reserves dropped to the equivalent of 7.2 years of output at the end of last year, the lowest since at least 2007, according to the National Hydrocarbons Agency. The Andean nation had 2.04 billion barrels of proven crude reserves, the equivalent of 7.5 years of output.

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