Colombia - Country Commercial Guide
Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Equipment

This is the best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-11-08


Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Equipment Overview  





Total Local Production




Total Exports




Total Imports




Imports from the U.S.




Total Market Size




[total market size = (total local production + imports) – exports]
Units: USD millions
Source: World Trade Atlas; Industry Associations, Campetrol 

The oil and gas sector is a key generator for Colombia’s national revenue. However, starting on April 28, 2021, Colombia experienced a wave of protests initiated by a tax proposal submitted by the Duque administration, which was later withdrawn due to widespread opposition. The tax proposal, combined with broad dissatisfaction with the economy and government policies, caused significant unrest and disrupted Colombia’s supply chains. Although protesters did not target oil and gas operations directly, the road blockages and material shortages affected southern provinces, which house key oil-producing fields and caused disruption of upstream operations. This forced several oil and gas producers to limit their operations and lower hydrocarbons production.

Nevertheless, the Duque administration continues to invest efforts to reactivate long-delayed policies and regulations to attract foreign investment in the development of onshore and offshore exploration activities. Industry reports a more optimistic view of the medium-term; however, there are still several hurdles from municipalities opposing extractive industry activities, extensive timelines for environmental licensing, and ongoing attacks to the country’s energy infrastructure from insurgency groups like the National Liberation Army of Colombia (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN). Operating companies also have high production costs and face relatively high taxes. 

During 2020, Colombia reached an average production rate of 781,300 barrels per day, a decline from 2019 which was 886,000 barrels per day, corresponding to an 11.8 percent reduction. Furthermore, average natural gas production reached 1.1 billion cubic feet per day with Ecopetrol leading the production, revealing a worrisome downward trend due to declining fields.

Under President Duque, the Government of Colombia (GoC) is aggressively promoting investment in offshore oil and gas exploration and moving forward with the pilot projects in exploration and production of unconventional hydrocarbons to help increase the country’s reserves of crude oil and natural gas to reduce the risk of becoming net importers of hydrocarbons.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy reports that Colombia’s known oil reserves dropped to 1.8 billion barrels due to the lack of significant oil discoveries, allowing for the country to be self-sufficient until 2026, with an increased risk of becoming a net importer of crude oil if no major discoveries are found before then. Natural gas reserves dropped to 2.9 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of proven reserves which will last until 2027. 

Leading Sub-Sectors:

  • Seismic activity services (two and three dimensional)
  • Drilling equipment (including directional drilling) and drilling fluids
  • Wellhead equipment (Christmas trees, valves, compressors, pumps, piping equipment, safety equipment, well completion, casing, and cementing equipment)
  • Improved production stimulation and artificial lift systems
  • Enhanced oil recovery for selected fields
  • Crude oil and natural gas pipeline design and construction services


The National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) has mandated all exploration and production companies operating in Colombia to provide the agency with information on hydrocarbons resource and reserves following approved methodologies by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), World Petroleum Council (WPC), and American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG).  ANH estimates undiscovered resource reserves of conventional hydrocarbons could reach up to 10 billion barrels and unconventional hydrocarbons reserves could reach up to 20 billion barrels.  Preliminary conventional natural gas reserves could yield up to 11.4 TCF of probable and potential reserves from Colombian onshore and offshore basins under exploration (Tayrona, Sinu, Tumaco, and Choco areas). Unconventional gas sources such as coalbed methane could yield preliminary reserves of 7.5 TCF of recoverable reserves, mostly in la Guajira and the Cesar basins. Other potential reserves point to tight shale gas (mostly in the Magdalena Medio basins), and methane hydrates found in the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean basins.

In July 2020, the Ministry of Energy issued Resolution 40185 in which it established the technical rules for the unconventional hydrocarbon pilot projects.  Currently, only two companies, Ecopetrol and ExxonMobil, are developing unconventional hydrocarbons pilot projects in the hope they can transition into shale oil and/or gas production in the future. This technique remains unpopular in Colombia and is subject to repeated legal challenges. These projects would initially focus on the Cesar-Rancheria and Middle Magdalena Valley basins. The projects aim to develop a critical baseline of information on the basins, groundwater, seismic data, operational development, and other critical information that would assist in a more transparent development of  unconventional resources.

The GoC is committed to decarbonizing Colombia’s energy matrix by transitioning from liquid fuels to natural gas and electricity as the primary energy sources for the transportation, industrial, and residential sectors. Colombia’s limited reserves and decline in production might lead to increased imports of natural gas in the coming years. Opportunities may arise for U.S. exporters of natural gas.

The GoC has published a tender to develop a second LNG import facility in Buenaventura on the Pacific coast. Additional pipeline infrastructure is also needed. The Buenaventura tender has been delayed several times as the government works to structure incentives.

Ecopetrol plans to pursue upgrades to their Barrancabermeja refinery. They plan to invest around USD 780 million over the course of the next two years (by 2023). The projects will focus on conserving water, reducing emissions, and improving quality of fuel production, among others.

Trade Event

IV Cumbre de Petróleo y Gas (IV Oil and Gas Summit); Virtual

Bogotá, Colombia


For additional information, including market analysis, trade events, and the products and services that the U.S. Commercial Service can provide to help you succeed in the Colombian market, please contact:

U.S. Embassy Bogotá

Norcia Ward

Oil and Gas Commercial Assistant

+57 (601) 275-2703