Dwindling reserves prompt Colombia to study need for new oil, gas exploration contracts

Oscar Medina and Eric Martin, Bloomberg May 26, 2023

(Bloomberg) – Colombia is studying the need for more exploration contracts after a report showed oil and gas reserves dropping, according to a senior minister.

The government wants to lead a transition away from fossil fuels while limiting any negative impact on the economy, Trade Minister German Umaña said Thursday in a phone interview.

“We’ll certainly take measures to ensure environmental sustainability, but also economic sustainability,” Umaña said, speaking from Washington, where he was meeting with U.S. officials to discuss the trend toward growing global protectionism.  

Gustavo Petro won the presidency last year pledging to phase out oil and coal. So far, his administration has refused to issue any new exploration licenses, though some of his ministers have hinted that this policy could be modified.

Colombia needs to consider the importance that oil and gas still have for the balance of payments and the fiscal accounts, Umaña said. Oil and coal represented about half of Colombian exports in 2022.

The government also needs to consider how sectors such as tourism are performing, to gauge how quickly Colombia can manage the transition, he added. 

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