By Carlos Vargas
CARTAGENA, Colombia, Feb 7 Colombian oil output
should average around 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2013,
the energy minister told a conference on Thursday, rising about
16.5 percent from 2012.
Latin America's fourth-largest oil producer has ramped up
crude production in the last decade amid improved security,
fiscal terms and regulation, but producers have struggled
recently with a rise in attacks and delays in permits.
"We expect that at the end of 2013, average daily production
will reach 1.1 million barrels of oil," Energy and Mining
Minister Federico Renjifo said in the coastal city of Cartagena.
Colombia had an average output of 944,000 bpd in 2012.
The goal this year is about 100,000 bpd higher than the
average production in January of 1.01 million bpd.
The government has said it is comfortable with its current
reserves through 2020, but the hunt is on to find large new
reserves to sustain the increase in output.
"We are trying to make the ratio of 6.8 years of oil
reserves increase ... more so since having passed 1 million
barrels of oil per day, we must better reserve capacity,"
Squeezing more out of traditional oil areas such as central
Meta province has increased near-term production growth.
Easing security concerns have allowed greater exploitation
of heavy crude areas in addition to incremental production
increases at existing fields.
The Andean country struggled to hit 1 million bpd last year
after a series of rebel attacks on oil infrastructure and delays
in environmental licenses for some key fields.
Last month, Colombia's FARC rebels kidnapped three oil
contractors who were freed a day later.
Violence, however, is still a far cry from what it was at
the height of the war in the 1990s and early 2000s when rebels
took hostages almost at will and attacked military bases.
Peace talks in Cuba between the FARC, Colombia's largest and
oldest guerrilla group, and the government over the last three
months could provide a much-welcome relief to the oil sector
which has been considered a legitimate target by rebels.