Colombia May crude output rises 19% on year

Colombia’s crude oil output in May rose 19% to an average of 776,000 barrels a day from 653,000 barrels a day a year earlier, the government oil-licensing agency, known as ANH, said Thursday.

The May output, which was similar to April’s, was also the highest monthly average since November 1999, when production averaged 795,000 barrels a day.

Average output for the first five months of the year were 764,000 barrels of crude a day.

State oil company Ecopetrol SA (EC, ECOPETROL.BO) and its partner companies reached an average production in April of 686,000 barrels per day, a 15% increase from a year earlier. Output by companies operating through licensing agreements stood at 90,000 barrels per day, ANH said.

In 2009, average crude oil output totaled 671,000 barrels a day, the highest since 2000, when average output stood at 688,000 barrels a day.

Canada-based Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp. (PRE.T) and Ecopetrol managed to boost production from their Rubiales field in eastern Colombia thanks to a new pipeline that allows them to ship more oil from the field.

Colombia’s natural-gas production averaged 1.09 billion cubic feet per day in May, up from 1.01 billion cubic feet per day in the same month last year.

Colombia has seen massive inflows of foreign investment to develop its oil and natural gas industries as a result of President Alvaro Uribe’s market-friendly policies and his administration’s success in gaining control of territory once in the hands of Marxist guerrillas.

The oil output in May 2010, was 52% higher than in August 2006.

The country’s Mines and Energy Minister Hernan Martinez has said that the country’s output could reach 1.2 million barrels a day “in the medium term.”

(Inti Landauro, Dow Jones)

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