The drop in oil prices – which has happened since late 2014 – has been a subject of great concern in Colombia, due to its high impact in the country’s economy.

During 2014, the average price of the Brent reference (London) was of 101.2 dollars, but in early 2015 the price of said reference, which is determining for the majority of the country’s oil exportation, dropped under 50 dollars.

A speedy recovery of the prices will not happen any time soon, considering the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEP) decided to maintain oil daily production at 30 million barrels.

In Colombia, the drop in oil prices will lead to an imminent decrease of the income of Ecopetrol – the main oil production firm in the country – causing a reduction in the country’s tax collection; less income will inevitably lead to the payment of less taxes.

The effects of the price decrease has been evident in Ecopetrol since late 2014, when several of the company’s key projects were financially constrained.

Amid the oil crisis, the development and implementation of new, more efficient technologies that meet local extraction needs, appear as an alternative to counteract the effect of the oil price drop.

The above, in order to elevate production levels and to maintain a strong presence in the international market.

In Colombia, Ecopetrol has been a leader in the development and implementation of new technologies, filing before the Colombian Patent Office 62 patent applications in the past five years.

Recently, said Office granted Ecopetrol the patent for Process for the dehydration of heavy and extra heavy crude oils through a dilution scheme.

This patent, prosecuted by Clarke, Modet & Co. Colombia, is directed towards the improvement of the efficiency of the extraction and transportation of heavy and extra heavy oil, which is common in Colombia, without the need of using conventional treatments (thermal, electrical, mechanical, and chemical treatments).

The prosecution of patent applications related with these topics, shows how much interest there is in research and development of technologies which help overcome particular challenges of the oil industry in Colombia, in order to take advantage of the available reservoirs and to address the oil price crisis.

Precisely, due to the implementation of innovative technologies as the one mentioned above, the oil production in Colombia reached a historical peak, hitting 1.034.500 barrels per day in early 2015.

Therefore, the drop in oil prices should not only be seen as an economical challenge, but also as an opportunity for the development of new, cost-effective technologies that meet local needs in order to take advantage of available resources.