Colombia’s Give and Take with the US

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Colombian crude oil exports last year were at the slowest pace on our records, although the export of new grades has helped temper a stronger decline. Last year, the South American country began exporting its heavy Acordionero and heavy sour Apiay Blend grades, which combined represented around 3% of the country’s total crude exports.

The US has so far received all but one of the cargoes of Acordionero and Apiay Blend shipped from Colombia, with the US Gulf Coast the key destination, given refiners have been hungry for heavy grades following sanctions on Venezuelan oil. Last year, the US was the leading destination, accounting for 42% of Colombian crude exports.

Flows between these two countries, however, are reciprocal as Colombia is also an importer of US light crude. Since 2017, the US has been playing a major role in the Colombian energy sector by becoming the country’s top supplier of crude oil.

Colombia typically imports light grades such as WTI, WTL and Midland WTI, which are used to blend with the country’s oil to optimize crude refining according to information provided by Ecopetrol.  The South American country mainly produces heavy and medium crude such as Vasconia and Castilla Blend, which require blending with lighter grades so that they can be transported.

Despite continuous attacks on its oil infrastructure, especially on the 480-mile Caño Limon-Coveñas pipeline, Colombia has kept exports at a relatively steady pace in recent years.