OREANDA-NEWS. Colombia will receive around 40mn ft3/d (1.12mn m3/d) of natural gas from Venezuela starting in January 2016 despite diplomatic tensions between the two countries, according to the head of the Colombian gas association Naturgas.

"The bet is on the project, that Venezuela will return some of the gas that [Colombia] sold it in the past," Naturgas president Eduardo Pizano said, highlighting that relations with Venezuelan state-owned oil company PdV remain on a good footing.

Starting from 1 January 2016, PdV will deliver 39mn ft3/d to Colombia's gas pipeline network, according to Naturgas. Volumes will increase to 85mn ft3/d in one year, and to 150mn ft3/d up to three years later.

Until mid-2015, Colombia had been shipping gas to Venezuela along the 150mn ft3/d Antonio-Ricaurate cross-border pipeline. Volumes fluctuated, with shipments in the final months running at around 40mn ft3/d. The gas came from declining Guajira gas fields run by Chevron and Colombian state-controlled Ecopetrol.

When the line was inaugurated in 2007, the two governments agreed that the flow would be reversed in 2012, a goal that PdV was not able to fulfill.

Spain?s Repsol and Italy?s Eni started Venezuela?s first-ever offshore gas production from the 17 trillion ft3 Perla field in July 2015. PdV buys the gas, and has said it will start exporting some of the surplus to Colombia starting in January.

Perla is currently on track to produce 450mn ft3/d of gas by the end of the year, Repsol says.

Colombia faces a possible gas deficit as a result of flagging production, a dearth of new discoveries and spikes in demand from thermal power generators during periods of drought.

A group of thermal generators plans to start importing LNG through a new regasification terminal near Cartagena next year.

Supply from Venezuela has seemed like a more remote option. The two countries have been at sharp odds in recent months over Venezuela?s closure of once bustling border crossings. At the same time, there are doubts about the status of infrastructure linking the Paraguan? peninsula, where the Perla gas comes ashore, and the gas pipeline network leading to the 225km Antonio Ricaurte line near Maracaibo.

Colombia?s gas production fell below 1bn ft3/d in August for the second month in a row.

The Guajira contract is producing around 450mn ft3/d from the offshore Chuchupa and onshore Ballena fields, off a peak of 684mn ft3/d in 2010, according to the latest statistics from the country's national hydrocarbons agency (ANH).

Chevron shut down the onshore Riohacha field after the field experienced significant declines and high water levels.