Sandwiched between OPEC members Ecuador and Venezuela, Colombia has for decades looked like an Andean misfit because it was not a major oil exporter. But when Venezuela's foreign minister visited Bogotá in November, he reportedly asked his counterpart, "When is Colombia going to join OPEC?" Quietly, Colombia has become the fourth-largest oil producer in Latin America, after Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil.
Today, Colombia produces nearly 1 million barrels of oil per day (bpd), almost double its output in 2005. By 2015, Colombia's oil minister expects the country to produce 1.5 million bpd.
Improved security is the most obvious reason for Colombia's good fortune. With the help of U.S. foreign aid and security cooperation, Bogotá has beat back guerilla control over Colombian territory, opening up more land to oil and gas exploration and making the countryside more secure. Also, in 2007, Colombia partly privatized its state-owned oil company, Ecopetrol. Since then, the country's oil patches have welcomed more than $10 billion in foreign investment.