In an official filing this week, Ecopetrol Group claimed proven reserves of 1.659 billion barrels of oil equivalent at the end of 2017, an increase of 3.7% from the 1.598 billion barrels reported at the end of 2016.
Though the total still falls short of the proven reserves reported at the close of 2015 (1.849 billion barrels), the increase represents progress in the Colombian state-controlled oil company’s push to replace its falling reserves as it invests in more exploration and development.
According to the Bogotá-based company, the new total gives Ecopetrol a reserve life of 7.1 years, up from 6.8 years at the close of 2016.
The company will look to expand this figure even further in 2018 with an investment plan that calls for up to $4 billion USD in investment in further exploration and production. Ecopetrol expects to drill 620 development wells and 12 exploration wells this year.
Last year, the increased reserve total was the result of an addition of 295 million barrels (minus the annual production of 234 million barrels). Of that sum, 94 million barrels were added due to the higher price of oil recorded in 2017, which allows for “the extension of the fields’ economic limit and the incorporation of new projects,” according to Ecopetrol.
This figure was based upon the price of $54.93 USD per barrel of Brent crude — up from $44.49 USD in 2016 — set by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Another 73 million barrels comes from the company’s “enhanced recovery” efforts rooted in tech innovations that allow technicians to increase output from key wells. This 2017 figure is well above the 11 million barrels added from enhanced recovery in 2016 and 16 million barrels in 2015.
The primary enhanced recovery gains come from fields including Chichimene, Castilla, Casabe and Tibú, stated the company. Ecopetrol characterizes this program as “one of the pillars of the company’s growth in reserves and production.”
Some 44 million barrels added to the proven reserves came from extensions to current fields and discoveries of new production sites. This is an increase compared to the 27 million barrels added from this category in 2016 and the 24 million barrels added in 2015.