With the Colombian petroleum industry facing an unprecedented crisis, the country’s industry trade group, the Colombian Petroleum Association (ACP) has issued an appeal to Colombia’s national Government to revise the regulation that set crude oil pipeline transportation rates by pipeline, that make up 45% of the upstream cost per barrel, in order to mitigate the impacts of the dramatic fall in international oil prices in Colombia.
According to the most recent ACP economic report “Double covid-19 crisis and price war industry: impact for Colombia and the hydrocarbon sector,” with the current crisis it will be necessary to severely curtail investments and production of oil budgeted for 2020, and the group projects a daily drop of 35,000 barrels, which could reach 100,000 if the Brent reference crude price remains below $25 USD a barrel the rest of the year. This situation, added to the already high costs of operating in Colombia, means that the revenues per barrel fail to cover the average costs to produce oil in the country.
The ACP report, prepared based on information provided by the managers of a representative group of the private production companies, indicates that the national average of operating costs is between $20 – $25 dollars per barrel. For its part, the “break-even” or balance point to cover costs of production in Colombia is located between $40 and $45 dollars a barrel, that is, below this range, companies earn revenue that barely covers their current cost of production.
“The price crisis and high uncertainty have led companies to reduce investments, closing wells and fields, with a serious impact on employment, the contracting of goods and services and in the economic dynamics of the producing regions; this without counting the effect on the collection of royalties, taxes and contractual economic rights, and their impact on the finances of the nation,” said Francisco José Lloreda Mera, president of the ACP on a morning conference call with reporters today.
• A daily drop of around 35,000 barrels of oil is expected, which could reach 100,000 if Brent remains below $25 a barrel the rest of the year.
• ACP says that regulated oil transportation rates for pipelines represent around 45% of the total cost of operation.
• Tax revenues of the central government and the regions could fall more than 75% due to the petroleum crisis.
“The national government is aware of this, important measures have been taken, but an urgent intervention in pipeline transportation rates, as they are excessively high compared to the cost of production, are not internationally competitive, and are the main obstacle to companies in this difficult situation,” said Lloreda.
The industry leader further explained that “pipeline transportation is the only link in the chain of the sector whose cost in recent years has remained practically the same, representing around half of production costs, is not manageable by E&P companies because it is regulated by the Ministry of Energy, and various studies show that it is excessive; so it is essential that the tariffs are reviewed not only for the moment of price crisis and for the sustainability of the industry in the short term, but the current methodology should be structurally reformulated towards the future,” added Lloreda.
Measures taken to date
In order to mitigate the double crisis caused by Covid-19 and the fall in international prices, the Colombian government has advanced in actions for E&P (Exploration & Production) contracts with the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) related to extension of terms and reduction of bank guarantees. Likewise, for all taxpayers, progress was made in the refund of VAT balances and flexibility in the tax schedule. Finally, additional measures were announced to defer payment of economic rights.
According to ACP, these decisions are extremely important to the industry and are expected to help preserve E&P contracts, future investment and to partially alleviate the burden on companies to support their sustainability during the crisis.
“The reduction of contributions of this sector to the national economy, which is projected at more than 75% compared to 2019, is critical at this time when more income is required to help the population more vulnerable to the economic and social emergency caused by Covid-19. We hope to continue advancing in the search for effective measures with the government that allows us to continue operating and mitigate the crisis in the sector, while preventing a devastating effect on employment and the regional & national economy,” emphasized Lloreda.
Photos courtesy ACP