The amount of oil and gas found by BP in Colombia is much larger than originally suspected and production is set to rise very steeply, bringing a bonanza to the company. According to industry observers here, the company will be producing 1 million barrels of oil within 10 years, slightly less than currently comes out of the UK sector of the North Sea.
BP itself will not confirm the reports but does say that current production from the Cusiana-Cupiagua field is rising fast and that it expects to be producing 500,000 barrels a day by the end of next year. Last month's production stood at 180,000 bpd up from 40,000 bpd in December 1994.
One black spot in the situation is the continuing disruption of the oil industry by guerrillas. Shell claimed last month that since 1986 guerrillas had attacked pipelines 371 times and caused losses for repair and clean-up approaching pounds 30m. The 1.3 million barrels of crude which escaped from the principal pipeline linking the Cano Limon field to the Pacific port of Covenas was equivalent to four times that lost by the Exxon Valdez off the coast of Alaska in 1989.