Australia and Colombia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Bilateral Cooperation in the oil and gas sector that will help enhance business ties between both countries.

Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia, Josh Frydenberg, signed the MOU in Melbourne on 22 January and Colombia’s Mining and Energy Minister, Tomas Gonzalez, signed a week later in Bogota.

Crispin Conroy, Austrade Senior Trade Commissioner for Colombia, and Mauricio de la Mora, President of the Colombian National Hydrocarbons Agency, joined Colombia’s Minister Gonzalez in Bogota to finalise the signing.

The agreement will help enhance opportunities for Australia’s well-established oil and gas sectors.

Australia’s extensive experience, including in mapping and exploration, will assist Colombia to address its need to locate more oil and gas reserves. There is also interest in Australia’s expertise in regulatory frameworks for the industry. Similarly, Australian industry will also benefit from increased interaction with this large potential market.

‘The focus of the arrangement is sharing Australia’s experience in offshore exploration and in coal seam gas, which is based on Queensland’s regulatory model,’ said Conroy.

‘Colombia, Latin America’s fourth largest oil producer, is looking for new sources of oil and gas as its current reserves are not keeping pace with production – hence, the focus on Australia’s experience in offshore and other unconventional sources.

‘Colombia is also interested in attracting Australian investment to its hydrocarbons sector, and has already had preliminary discussions with some Australian companies with exploration licences in the Latin American region,’ added Conroy.

The MOU will enable Australia to share its expertise around offshore and coal seam gas, as well as regulatory frameworks for the industry.

One Australian company active in the Colombian market is AMOG, a specialist engineering consultancy firm. It commented that the MOU was a potential “major door opener” for them with exploration companies, operators and government agencies in the market.

Australia is the third country after Norway and the UK to sign an MOU on oil and gas with Colombia.

This follows the MOU on cooperation in mining that Australia signed with Colombia in January 2015, which is fostering relationships between Australian service providers and education and training institutions in Colombia.

The announcement of the MOU followed news that the Colombian Government was negotiating a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc).

Colombia’s 50-year war with Farc – the world’s longest internal conflict – could draw to a close as early as next month, with a peace agreement expected to be signed in late March 2016. The agreement could potentially open significant areas of the country for exploration and is expected to spur an inflow of foreign investment, particularly to the resources and infrastructure sectors.

This article was published on 17th February 2016 by the Australian Trade Commission, AusTrade.

Visit Austrade’s website to read more about the business opportunities in Colombia or contact Senior Trade Commissioner Crispin Conroy (crispin.conroy@austrade.gov.au) and Senior Business Development Manager Ms Monica Ramirez (monica.ramirez@austrade.gov.au).