Mauricio VARGAS CARVAJAL, Schlumberger

Unconventional and offshore resources are key growth frontiers that must be explored for Colombia to increase oil and gas reserves.


in figures

Date of first electric log in Colombia1938

Years Schlumberger has been present in ColombiaMore than 77 years

Colombia’s oilfield services

November 2, 2015

Mauricio Vargas Carvajal, general manager of Schlumberger’s operations in Colombia and Peru, talks to TOGY about the Colombian oil and gas challenges. The US oilfield services provider has been working in the Colombian market for more than 77 years, providing service for the country’s mature fields, offshore operations, the complex drilling of foothills and more.

What do operators in Colombia require from the oilfield services sector to increase the recovery rates at mature fields?
Many countries are going through a period of enhanced oil recovery or incremental oil recovery at mature fields. Techniques such as water injection are of particular importance with regards to secondary recovery. Such efforts at the Casabe field have been successful. The current challenge facing the sector will be implementing these kinds of technologies in other operations on a larger scale.
For tertiary recovery of heavy oil, steam injection and on-site combustion are options. Oilfield services providers must ensure that all the necessary equipment to carry out these methods is available on time, from drilling to artificial lift, including the injection fluids that facilitate production.

What role does heavy oil play in Colombia’s hydrocarbons production?
Most of Colombia’s output comes from heavy oil, which contributed to a production increase between 2004 and 2015. The success of companies such as state-owned Ecopetrol and domestic independent Pacific Rubiales Energy is concentrated in heavy oil production. Unconventional and offshore resources are key growth frontiers that must be explored for Colombia to increase oil and gas reserves.


Is Colombia ready to make a commitment to unconventional reserves and offshore exploration and production?
In Colombia, unconventional reserves have caught the attention of international companies such as Ecopetrol, and super-majors ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and Shell. There is potential see whether or not exploration and production of unconventional reserves could be successful. Companies will have to work within existing regulations and with financial resources. This may take some time due to the impact low oil prices have had on these kinds of projects.
Colombia’s offshore plays have started to show potential. Discoveries in Brazil’s state-owned company Petrobras’ Orca-1 and US company Anadarko’s Kronos-1 are just the beginning.

How does the process of obtaining environmental licences affect exploration?
The domestic oil and gas industry is paying the price of the significant growth that it experienced over the past 10 years. Between 2009 and 2014, many drilling delays were linked to the amount of time it took to conduct studies and obtain environmental licences.
In recent years, operators have noticed the situation improving. Energy companies and Colombia’s government are communicating and co-operating to ensure environmental licences are available in time for scheduled operations to begin.

Has the decrease in exploration activities affected the consultation process?
The conversations surrounding the consultation process have a great deal to do with general expectations for the oil and gas industry. Those working in the industry are making efforts to understand and manage community expectations.
This is not new in Colombia, and it is not new in the oil industry. It happens everywhere. When foreign companies come into areas where people do not have experience dealing with a particular industry, there is a learning process associated with understanding and meeting communities’ expectations.

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