Only five days after the Minister of Mines and Energy, Irene Vélez, said in Davos that it is already a decision not to sign more contracts for look for gas and oildoubts arose about the adequacy of the study with which this determination was justified.
The trigger that led to the questioning was the fact that Caracol Radio revealed that the name of the Vice Minister of Energy, Belizza Ruiz, was included in the document without her authorizationand that he found out after it was published.
(Also read: Colombia will not sign more oil and gas exploration contracts)
Consulted by EL TIEMPO, Ruiz – who was asked to resign a few weeks ago – listed what she considered various problems in the study that led to a decision that, according to President Gustavo Petro, is based on science.
The study ‘Balance of hydrocarbon contracts and resources available for the Just Energy Transition’, was presented on December 15 of last year.
«We decided – Vélez said in a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland) – that we are not going to award new oil and gas exploration contracts. That has been very controversial at the national level, but for us that is a clear sign of our commitment to the fight against climate change.»
Then, President Gustavo Petro assured that «gas reserves are enough for internal consumption in a period between 2037 and 2042. Those who say that the transition should be longer, then they are against science.»
(In context: Petro defends not signing new oil exploration contracts).
I did not know the report, nor was I consulted for its preparation. I met him the day he was posted on Twitter
Vice Minister Ruiz -who is waiting for her resignation to be accepted- told this newspaper that the study «has technical, economic and methodological problems and has no bibliographical references.
The vice minister leads hydrocarbons issues, and her name was included in the credits, but without her authorization. «I did not know the report, nor was I consulted for its preparation. I knew it the day it was published on Twitter,» she said.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy was consulted about the questions, but did not comment.
This document concludes that, taking into account the 273 contracts that are currently in execution -and if the contractual stages are successfully developed- there is a probability of contributing up to 2,033 million barrels of oil in proven reserveswhich is equivalent to those that Colombia had at the end of 2021. In gas, there is a potential of up to 3,028 gigapiés.
(Also read: In November, Colombia had the highest oil production in more than 2 years)
But the ministry also warns that «proven reserves have a component of uncertainty for its commercialization and the resources have greater risk and uncertainty for them to develop as commercial probables». This means that it is not certain that all this potential can be produced in the future.
The former Minister of Mines and Energy, Tomás González, assured that the main mistake that the national government has made is say «something as true that it is not» because the reserves are underground and a lot of additional information is required to be certain that they will be able to produce and sell.
Along these lines, it is important to keep in mind that proven reserves are those that have a 90 percent probability of being extracted from the subsoil, while probable reserves are 50 percent and possible reserves are 10 percent.
«It is very difficult to add up and say that there is such a degree of certainty that it will give us peace of mind in our oil and gas reserves. This is what is problematic. They are adding things that have different levels of risk and probability of occurring and that cannot be done”, added González.
The report also mentions that the contingent resources, both from the Sinú-9 block -where in 2022 NG Energy reported several discoveries- and from the offshore discoveries that have been reported in recent years such as Uchuva and Gorgon-2, can supply the national demand and even produce a surplus in its production until 2037. But if prospective resources are taken into account, this gas supply can be extended to 2042.
However, it is risky to make accounts with contingent and prospective resources because the former are characterized by not being currently commercially viable due to technical or economic factors, and the latter, are those that have not even been discovered.
(Also read: Canacol Energy announced three gas discoveries in Magdalena, Cesar and Córdoba)
Tomorrow’s energy security is ensured with more exploration starting today
As these resources have a very high existence uncertainty, they can only materialize as reserves when new wells are drilled, for this reason, the president of Naturgas, Luz Stella Murgas, highlights the importance of maintaining exploratory activity in the country since «the tomorrow’s energy security is guaranteed with more exploration starting today». In addition, it must be borne in mind that the investments and results of these explorations are not immediatebut in the long term.
«If we stop signing new contracts and exploring new areas, where it has been identified that there is a potential for reserves, what we will do is shorten the term of energy security that we should preserve for a longer time”, he added.
The only certainty that Colombians can have at this time is what the official reserve report published by the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) says in May 2022. It indicates that, as of December 31, 2021, Colombia’s proven reserves increased to 2,039 million barrelsthat reach for 7.6 years (in 2020 the useful life was 6.3 years).
(Keep reading: Hard controversy over the study on gas self-sufficiency prepared by the Government).
Regarding natural gas, the proven reserves reached 3,164 cubic gigapietes, which meant that, for the first time since 2017, the downward trend that had been registered was reversed and the useful life of these went from 7.7 to 8 years. .
The report with the data updated to December 31, 2022 is expected to be released next May -as has been done in previous years- since each company must present its reserve report to the ANH during the first quarter of this year.