Bogota – A projected new Colombian pipeline to the Pacific coast could be "a reality" in approximately four or five years, Energy and Mines Minister Carlos Rodado Noriega told reporters in this capital.
"It's difficult to make an estimate. We're talking about periods of 4 or 5 years that a pipeline of this nature could become a reality," Rodado said here Thursday at a Brazil-Colombia investment forum.
This pipeline project is a novel concept, since all of the country's plans for new oil ducts a few months ago had been focused on Caribbean ports.
"It's a way of looking toward the Pacific, which is precisely the site or region of the Earth that's seeing the biggest growth (in demand for) commodities," Rodado said.
Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol and Canada's Enbridge are currently conducting studies for the ambitious project, which is still in the "conceptual stage," Rodado said.
The idea would be to transport crude from the oil-rich Llanos Basin of eastern Colombia across the Andes mountains to either Buenaventura, in Valle del Cauca province, or Tumaco, in Nariño province, which are Colombia's first and second largest Pacific ports, respectively.
Rodado said it is still too early to estimate the cost of the pipeline, adding that the exact figure will not be known until serious pre-feasibility, feasibility and design studies are conducted.
But "whenever you're talking about a pipeline of this size, you're talking about something that costs much more than $1 billion."
"This is now off the ground. Over the next two or three years, you'll see that it's moving forward and the pre-feasibility studies will be giving us more information and more figures," Rodado said.
Colombia produced 929,226 barrels of crude per day in July, up 18.6 percent from the same month last year.
Heavy crude makes up roughly 60 percent of Colombia's output, while countries in Asia have increased their capacity to refine that type of oil in recent years.