It is a mixture of gases with high calorific value formed deep within the earth over the years. Its main component is methane. The others, in small quantities, are mainly gases such as ethane, carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor.
Natural gas can be measured in units of volume (cubic meters, m3 or cubic feet, ft 3) or energy (kilowatt hour, Kwh or thermal units of measurement, BTU).
During the 90s, the National Government prepared CONPES documents in order to determine the necessary actions for promoting a more efficient and convenient energy consumption matrix for the purpose of benefiting the country, including the Gas Plan and the Program for the Mass Consumption of Gas, consisting the substitution of high cost energy resources to be replaced by natural gas and LPG (propane gas) in industrial, commercial, residential and thermoelectrical sectors.
Two goals were set for the achievement of this object: i) taking natural and propane gas to over 3.7 million families within the short term with the support of the private sector, and ii) strengthening supply, through the interconnection of the main natural gas production fields in the Atlantic Coast (Ballena) and in the interior of the country (Cusiana-Cupiagua) to the main regional markets nationwide, as a result of the construction of natural gas transportation and distribution infrastructure.
After the year 1994, Law 142 was issued in order to establish the legal framework for the provision of public utility services. Within this framework, fuel gas (Natural Gas and LPG) was defined as a public service and the Commission for the Regulation of Energy and Gas (CREG) was created as the entity responsible for implementing the regulatory and legal framework for the activities related to the transportation, distribution and sale of natural gas. Notwithstanding this, the norms and competences established in the Petroleum Code and in Association Contracts remained binding for natural gas exploration, extraction and production activities
Starting from that point in time, important changes have taken place as far as institutional and regulatory affairs are concerned, which have consolidated the development of the natural gas industry. Institutionally speaking, Ecopetrol was no longer responsible for implementing the Plan for Gas Massification in a centralized matter, nor did it continue to undertake all of the basic infrastructure investments involved, particularly those concerning the construction of trunk gas pipelines, instead remaining exclusively responsible for the exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons as its main business aim. Under this new institutional scheme, former Ecopetrol transportation assets were divided and capitalized in the Colombian Gas Company (Ecogas) created by Law 401of 1997 for the purpose of gas transportation.
In the same manner, natural gas distribution companies began to carry out their activities under the legal regime of Law 142 of 1994, without needing to obtain a concession contract from the nation, as an exception that only applies to exclusive service areas for the distribution of natural gas by networks.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy, complying with the guidelines established by the National Government through its Development Plan, has supported the implementation of programs intended to take Natural Gas and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) to consumption sectors where the provision of service is considered to be technically and economically viable.