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Colombia Sees $60 Oil, Won't Cut Output

Posted by August 4, 2015

Colombia will not curtail oil output this year, despite a plunge in the crude price and global supply outstripping demand at a near-record pace, its finance minister said on Tuesday.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which supplies about a third of the world's oil needs, has signalled the onus is on non-OPEC producers to cut output to deal with the fall in price to six-year lows below $50 a barrel .

"If they're counting on non-OPEC producers to cut production to adjust the oil market and to supply, that's not going to happen in Colombia," Minister Mauricio Cardenas said in a briefing with Reuters in London.

"We're making every effort to keep production at 1 million bpd (barrels per day)," he said.

A Reuters survey last week showed OPEC oil output reached its highest monthly level in recent history in July, rising by 140,000 bpd to 32.01 million bpd.

The oil price has halved over the past 12 months and is now at its lowest since the onset of the global financial crisis that stemmed in 2008 from U.S. subprime lending.

Crude sales contributed 3.0 percent to total Colombian economic growth back in 2013, the point at which Cardenas said the country's exports reached a peak.

Cardenas said he expected this percentage to shrink to 0.3 percent next year, reflecting the decline in the value of a barrel of oil.

The 50-percent drop in the value of the Colombian peso against the U.S. dollar this year has helped to partially cushion the blow of weaker crude oil prices to Latin America's fourth-largest economy.

Colombia achieved a growth rate of 2.8 percent in the first three months of this year, down from 6.5 percent in the same period last year.

Cardenas said the Colombian government was assuming a Brent crude oil price of $60 a barrel this year and $64 next year in its fiscal calculations.

"While we would be happier with higher oil prices, we would not do anything that would result in that. We will take that as positive news if it happens, but we're planning the future with low oil prices," he said.

That said, the government is depending on benchmark oil prices rising to meet its growth forecasts of 3.6 percent in 2015, 3.8 percent in 2016 and 4.0 percent in 2017.

"We're counting on $64 next year. So if prices remain where they are now, that is a major risk," Cardenas said.

By Amanda Cooper

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