National Oil Companies (NOCs) in many countries have undergone a substantial
reform process in order to become more efficient and effective in the provision of their
services. Colombia is an example of a country that introduced the necessary changes to end
the monopoly that Ecopetrol, the state oil company, historically exercised upon petroleum
policy. This policy decision also led to the creation of the National Hydrocarbons Agency
(Agenda Nacional de Hidrocarburos-ANH), Colombia's first independent regulator. The
transformation of the hydrocarbons sector was largely due to the institutional reform that
was introduced by the Alvaro Uribe Velez government (2002-2010) via Decree-Law No.
1760 of June 261h, 2003.
This paper describes the policy process that enabled the Uribe government to
effectively maintain oil self-sufficiency in Colombia after having undergone a critical
juncture period in time of decreasing petroleum reserves and loss of competitiveness of the
petroleum industry. We find that the country was able to undertake this successful
institutional reform because the Uribe government implemented similar measures in the
hydrocarbons sector introduced by past administrations (path dependency).