OREANDA-NEWS. Colombia crude output dropped in March on low oil prices as producers grow frustrated with what they say is poorly managed government regulation of oil and gas.

Oil production was 916,000 b/d in March, down 10pc from March last year and down 4pc from February, according to preliminary statistics published by Colombia's energy ministry today.

Colombia produced 1.057mn cf/d (29.6mn m?/d) of natural gas, up 0.7pc from the same month last year but down 0.7pc from February.

The slide in crude production is in response to low oil prices forcing some production offline and what Colombia's oil chamber ACP calls an uncompetitive framework for oil and gas investment.

Low oil prices have forced some companies to take fields off line, including state-controlled Ecopetrol's Ca?o Sur and CPO-9 fields offline.

Oil producers are expecting president Juan Manuel Santos' government to introduce lower pipeline tariffs some time this month, a measure Ecopetrol says would let operators restart fields that are currently unprofitable.

Despite Bogot?'s efforts to lower costs, ACP still worries that bureaucratic inefficiencies will drive producers' exploration investment away from Colombia and toward countries with more competitive regulations and institutions.

Colombia's environmental permitting agency ANLA this month revoked Hupecol's license to explore in the Serran?a block in Meta province, central Colombia, after compliance with licensing procedures that lasted 4 years and 9 months, said ACP.

"The industry worries seriously about legal security and stability for private, national and foreign investment, and the credibility and trust in (Colombia's) institutions," ACP said.

ANLA in September 2014 pledged to reform the licensing process for companies operating in Colombia, bringing wait times down to three months.