CERA14: Colombia raises offshore profile

March 5, 2014

Colombia’s offshore is not as widely explored as its conventional onshore space. The country, which has many resources including coal bed methane and even shale, is making a bigger push for offshore exploration.

Colombia’s Vice Minister of Energy for the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Orlando Cabrales (pictured), appeared at IHS CERAWeek on Tuesday to tout the country’s new 2014 Round. Colombia’s Agencia Nacional de Hidrocarburos (ANH) has taken its road show to CERAWeek once again as it did two years ago to drum up interest in the country’s total offerings, which includes 22 million hectares of acreage both on- and offshore.

Cabrales told press after his panel appearance that the country is increasing investment into deepwater and ultra-deepwater. So far 20 offshore blocks have already been awarded in the Caribbean. The 2014 Round will offer 13 offshore blocks, 10 in the Caribbean and three in the Pacific, Cabrales said.

Cabrales highlighted a few companies that are currently drilling or plan to drill in Colombia’s offshore waters in the second half of this year. Petrobras, who announced its Colombian plans last month, will drill the Orca prospect in the Tayrona-1 block in the Caribbean. Colombia’s state-owned firm Ecopetrol is also expected to drill its first offshore well. Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum is moving very fast on their drilling plans, Cabrales said. Anadarko's 4Q 2014 operations report announced that a multi-well drilling program is expected to commence by late 2014 or early 2015, following the completed acquisition of a 6500sq km 3D seismic survey on the independent s offshore blocks the 100%-owned block COL 2, and (50%-working interest) blocks COL 5, Fuerte Norte, Fuerte Sur, Purple Angel, and URA 4.

In addition to offering more acreage, Cabrales said the country plans to create a free trade zone to attract more offshore investment. In addition to US-based Anadarko, Brazil’s Petrobras, Spain’s Repsol, India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd. and supermajor Shell are present in Colombia’s offshore.

However, developing Colombia’s offshore is not the country’s only goal. Cabrales said Ecopetrol plans to become more competitive in other areas including the US Gulf of Mexico, Angola, and Brazil. “We need to move more aggressively in the region,” he told reporters.

A Q&A with a Colombian official would not be complete without a discussion on security, especially with attacks on pipeline infrastructure, which had been on the decline, suddenly spiking in the country last year. In a stark contrast, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported only 31 pipeline attacks in 2010. Colombia’s Ministry of Defense recorded 259 attacks occurred on oil pipelines in 2013.

“We have become experts in emergency response,” Cabrales said. He conceded that attacks by rebel groups on pipelines have increased, however, he said it has not significantly affected production. A report by the EIA estimated Colombia averaged 35,000b/d of unplanned production disruption as of September 2013, more than a 115% increase from 2012, the agency said.

“We have always found ways to cope and seek avenues to liberate the crude,” Cabrales said. “Our public forces are committed to protecting the infrastructure.

“I’m not saying we don’t wish to remove that barrier,” he continued. “But the alert is always high on that front.” Cabrales highlighted close ties with Colombia’s Energy Ministry and the country’s Ministry of Defense as a way of protecting oil and gas infrastructure.

Image: Audrey Leon/OE



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