Natural resources, energy and environment
Colombia has enormous natural riches, which
are only partially exploited. Of those used, oil,
natural gas, coal, gold, iron, copper and emeralds are
The oil sources are largely found in the Andes
foothills and in the Amazon jungle to the east. The
Llanos basin in central Colombia has the largest oil
production area, Rubiales, and the largest reserves of
Major exports by Colombia with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
Oil was about coffee as the most important export
commodity in 1989. The sector was liberalized in the
1990s to attract more foreign investment, which led to
increased production over a number of years. It
culminated around 2014, when the world market price
began to fall and the recovery has subsequently declined
The well-known oil and gas reserves are limited and
are only expected to reach around 2025. President Iván
Duque, who entered 2018, wants to develop the oil and
gas sector to strengthen the economy and the country's
energy supply. The government has therefore decided to
allow and encourage new extraction methods such as
fracking. But the decision is contentious and strongly
arouses opposition from the affected local communities
and the environmental movement.
Most of the natural gas extracted is used for the
country's own needs. Nearly half of the oil is exported,
mainly to the US but also to Panama, China and Spain.
Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, CO stands for Colombia.
In recent years, the oil and gas industry has been
subjected to armed attacks from guerrilla groups as well
as criminal gangs.
Colombia has Latin America's largest known coal
assets. Mining mainly occurs in the mining of Cerrejón
at the base of the Guajira Peninsula, which is Latin
America's largest coal mine and one of the world's
largest coal mines. Almost all coal mined is sold
abroad. Coal is Colombia's second largest export product
and the country is the world's fifth largest coal
exporter. Most of it goes to Europe and South and North
America, but exports to China and Japan are growing.
The mining industry has created social as well as
legal and environmental problems. Colombia's mining
sector ranges from large corporations, over small-scale
operations in artisanal forms without licenses, to armed
groups operating illegal mining to finance their
existence. According to the UN, only about one-seventh
of the gold mined in Colombia is legally mined.
Human rights organizations state that four-fifths of
Colombia's human rights violations occur in regions
where mining and extraction of energy commodities occur.
Nearly 90 percent of Colombians forced to leave their
homes come from these areas.
The large-scale and environmentally harmful
exploitation of oil and coal is not least criticized by
the indigenous population. In the Chocó region, foreign
companies that illegally mined gold have caused enormous
environmental degradation. Some of Colombia's water
resources are considered threatened by the mining
industry. In Bogotá, air pollution from traffic is a
major environmental problem.
Colombia has good conditions for hydropower in its
rivers, but only a small part is utilized. Nevertheless,
hydropower accounts for more than two-thirds of
electricity generation. Just under a fifth comes from
natural gas and just under a tenth from coal. Colombia
exports some electricity, mainly to Venezuela.
It is estimated that half of the world's emeralds
come from Colombia and the value of these can amount to
half a billion dollars annually. But the figures are
uncertain, as large quantities are smuggled out of the
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
712 kilos of oil equivalent (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
1290 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
84 092 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
1.8 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
23.6 percent (2015)
Ex-security manager is sentenced in the US
Mauricio Santoyo, who was Chief of Security during Uribe's presidency, has
admitted to a US court that he received bribes from the AUC between 2001 and
2008. He is sentenced to 13 years in prison in the United States. Santoyo has
acknowledged both the bribery and drug smuggling, as part of a settlement with
the prosecutors, and will pay $ 125,000 in fines for it. The AUC is stamped in
Flying attack against guerrilla camps
At least 20 Farc members are killed in a bomb attack against a camp near the
border with Ecuador, in the largest military operation since the peace talks
Colombia withdraws support for the ICJ
Colombia announces that the country no longer recognizes the International
Court of Justice in The Hague (ICJ), following a decision on border demarcation
against Colombia (see Foreign Policy and Defense).
Farc announces ceasefire before talks
The guerrilla unilaterally announces a ceasefire before the first round of
talks on land reform, a key issue behind the formation of Farc in the 1960s (see
Modern History). Delegations for the government and guerrillas are gathered in
Cuba's capital Havana for the talks.
Colombian drug king is arrested in Venezuela
Another leading Colombian drug trafficker is arrested in the neighboring
country (see September 2012). Jorge Milton Cifuentes Villa is
suspected to be the largest supplier of cocaine to the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico.
Official peace talks with Farc begin
On October 17, delegations representing the government and Farc respectively
arrive in Norway's capital Oslo, to begin the first official peace talks. The
dialogue mainly concerns five issues; an end to the fighting, a land reform,
guarantees that political opposition can be exercised, how drug trafficking is
handled and what rights the victims of the conflict should have. The talks that
are expected to last for months should continue in Cuba after the introduction
Colombian drug king is arrested in Venezuela
Daniel Barrera has been one of the most exciting in the world and has been
called Pablo Escobar's successor (see Modern History). It is the third Colombian
drug king arrested during the year.
Londoño confirms peace talks
The farce leader confirms the president's duties (see August 2012)
and proposes that a ceasefire be entered into when the talks begin, but Santos
Santos confirms peace talks
The president confirms rumors that the government has held preparatory talks
with Farc, but stresses that the military efforts against the guerrillas will
continue. The peace talks will be the first in ten years.
Leading drug king is arrested
Police seize one of the country's most influential drug kings, Erikson
Vargas, called Sebastián. Vargas leads an underground organization in Medellín
and is suspected of cooperating with drug leagues in Mexico.
Uribe forms political movement
Álvaro Uribe forms the Democratic Center (CD), with the aim of washing out a
candidate who is running for Santos in the 2014 elections.
Free Trade Agreement with USA
A controversial free trade agreement with the US comes into force. It is met
by widespread protests from farmers, trade unionists and students. Authorities
are closing the state universities and bus stations in Bogotá to try to stop
Ten prisoners released
Farc releases six police officers and four soldiers who have been held
hostage since the late 1990s. However, the left-wing guerrillas still hold about
Many dead in guerrilla attacks and army attacks
Farc kills eleven soldiers in eastern Arauca region. The government army
responds with attacks against guerrillas in Aruca and Meta, when 69 left rebels
are killed. The month before, many civilians were killed in attacks on two
police stations, attacks that Farc is believed to have been behind.
Santos rejects Farcin's invitation to dialogue
Farc's new leader Rodrigo Londoño opens talks with the government on
privatization, the liberalization of the economy, democracy in a market economy
and military issues. Assessors see the play as a sign that the Farc leader is
hard pressed. But President Santos rejects the invitation, saying that Farc must
show that the interest in peace is genuine before any deliberations can be held.