BOGOTA, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Investment in Colombia's oil and
gas industry is forecast to soar in 2022, boosted by exploration
investments, a private producers' association said on Wednesday,
though output is expected to lag pre-pandemic levels for another
Some $4.4 billion of investment is expected to be made in
the Andean country's hydrocarbons sector during 2022, 42% higher
than in 2021, the Colombian Petroleum Association (ACP) said
during its annual industry outlook presentation.
Of the forecast investments, $1.13 billion will go toward
exploration - more than half in gas - which would represent the
highest level of exploration investment since 2014, the ACP
Earlier this month, the government signed 30 contracts with
oil and gas companies, including Parex Resources and
state-owned oil company Ecopetrol.
"This is good news and what we're seeing is that companies
are committed to helping kick-start exploration," ACP president
Francisco Lloreda said in the virtual presentation.
While the outlook for Colombia's hydrocarbons sector
improves, the industry continues to struggle with the
coronavirus pandemic, which caused production to decline, while
weeks of social unrest amid anti-government protests last year
caused further falls in output.
Oil production in 2021 fell 5.6% versus the previous year to
736,000 barrels per day (bpd), the ACP said. The combined oil
and gas output came in 4% lower than 2020 levels at 924,000
barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed).
In November, Energy Minister Diego Mesa revised forecasts
for Colombia's 2021 oil production to around 770,000 bpd, down
from a previous range of 780,000 to 800,000 bpd.
Despite hopes of economic recovery in 2022, Colombia's oil
and gas output is expected to remain below pre-pandemic levels,
according to ACP forecasts.
Though combined production in 2019 hit 1.07 million boed,
output for this year is forecast at 954,000 boed, the ACP said.
(Reporting by Oliver Griffin and Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by