IOCs “eager” to expand into natural gas blocks offshore Colombia, Ecopetrol CEO says

Andrea Jaramillo, Bloomberg September 12, 2023

(Bloomberg) – International oil majors are eager to expand into promising natural gas projects off of Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Ecopetrol SA Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Roa said in an interview.

Recent deepwater discoveries have uncovered large volumes of natural gas that could eventually turn Colombia into an exporter of the fuel, and companies including Petroleo Brasileiro SA and Shell Plc have expressed interest in expanding their participation in these projects, he said.

“We’ve let it be known, to the different market participants, our willingness to allow the entrance of new players, or existing players, in these exploration areas,” Roa said. “We’ve been incorporating and receiving a lot of interest in participating.”

Bogota-based Ecopetrol is focusing future investments on offshore natural gas in Colombia and a fracing project in the Permian basin in the U.S., in the hopes of reversing declining oil and gas output. The first offshore gas production could start as early as 2027 and could grow enough to meet domestic demand for the power-plant fuel, and even allow for exports. Ecopetrol is looking for other companies to help cover the investments needed to bring these natural gas projects online, he said.

Petrobras and Shell didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

President Gustavo Petro has stopped awarding any new oil and natural gas exploration licenses as part of a pledge to wean Colombia’s dependency on fossil fuels, which means oil companies will need to focus on developing the existing 11 offshore licenses. Roa said that Ecopetrol is looking into reviving onshore oil licenses that were previously abandoned by other operators due to issues including conflicts with local communities, which could help shore up the country’s overall production.


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