The Colombian Oil Company (Ecopetrol), Colombia’s state-owned energy company, announced on Tuesday night (21) the beginning of an analysis process for importing gas from Venezuela.
Em statementthe company said it is analyzing the alternatives presented by PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company, to “supply natural gas to Colombia from December 2024.”
The announcement comes days after the visit that Colombian President Gustavo Petro made to Caracas last Saturday (18). The president met with his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolás Maduro, and had already announced that investments in the energy sector were being studied by Bogotá.
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“It is very likely that Ecopetrol will become a partner of PDVSA in gas and oil fields. This way we can ensure electricity for Venezuela and fossil raw materials for Colombia,” said Petro, hinting at a possible agreement also in the electricity sector with Caracas.
According to Ecopetrol, the company had already asked the US to ease some sanctions against Venezuela “to advance negotiations with PDVSA on fuel matters.” Therefore, the temporary suspension of coercive measures against the Venezuelan oil industry adopted by Washington on October 18 paved the way for a new analysis of Ecopetrol.
“Having known the background and the need to import gas for the coming years, the board of directors asked the administration to quickly evaluate the different alternatives to guarantee the availability of gas in the quantities and deadlines requested,” said the company.
Colombian demand is urgent
The urgency that appears in the statement issued by Ecopetrol is due to the increase in Colombia’s demand for natural gas. The country is facing a period of drought caused by the “El Niño” phenomenon, which is expected to worsen even further in the coming months.
With the hydroelectric sector affected by low water levels, the supply of energy generated by gas-powered plants should cover between 25% and 30% of national demand in 2023, according to the National Association of Generating Companies (Andeg). In wet years, the sector supplies around 15% of demand.
Therefore, the country increased its imports of natural gas this year. According to data from Andeg, until August Colombia had imported 309 thousand cubic tons of gas, 60% more than the same period in 2022.
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By reestablishing business with Venezuela, the Colombian government hopes to reduce import costs not only due to the geographic proximity between the countries, which are neighbors, but also through political agreements, as PDVSA needs partners at a time when it can once again become an actor. relevant in the international market.
Expectations were confirmed by Colombia’s Minister of Mines and Energy, Adrés Camacho, who classified possible agreements with Venezuela as “win-win”.
“Colombia has been importing gas since 2014 and it is used in large quantities to produce thermal energy. In 2023, the market offered, on average, 183 thousand BTU per day (…) at 16 dollars per unit, much more expensive than gas from Venezuela. If we achieve more competitive prices, this will imply an important reduction in the costs of generating thermal energy for the country”, said the minister.
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The operation, however, involves the recovery of the Antonio Ricaurte binational gas pipeline, located north of the border between the two countries. The project, which was inaugurated in 2007 by then presidents Hugo Chávez, of Venezuela, and Álvaro Uribe, of Colombia, has been deactivated since 2015.
The breakdown of relations between Caracas and Bogotá during the government of right-wing Colombian Iván Duque cut all contacts between the governments and prevented maintenance and repairs of structures.
According to Ecopetrol, the gas pipeline “in the past allowed the export of gas to Venezuela, but is currently in a period of equipment stabilization to allow gas flows to Colombia.”
Editing: Leandro Melito