Colombia will increase coal and petroleum production as it steps up to fill the void created by sanctions against Russia, Energy Minister Diego Mesa said, as reported by Reuters. 

The Andean county has restarted coal exports to Ireland. The European country stopped buying Colombian coal in 2016 on human rights concerns.

“Six years ago, Ireland had replaced Colombian coal with Russian coal … but at the beginning of the war they came knocking at our doors again,” Mesa said.

The demand for coal is so high that mining companies like Drummond, one of Colombia’s largest producers, have managed to secure contracts for the next 18 months, Mesa said.

Poland has signed for 1 million metric tons (mt) of coal from Drummond and is expected to place a contract for an additional 2 million mt, he said.

Colombia has also increased its coal exports to the Netherlands, Spain and Canada since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he added.

Mesa said he expects Colombian oil production to reach at least 800,000 barrels per day by the end of this year and up to 900,000 bbl/d by 2023.

“Any excess production will be put to international use,” he said.