Ecopetrol non-consolidated 4Q net profit down 18%

Colombian state-controlled oil company Ecopetrol SA booked a non-consolidated net profit of 1.69 trillion Colombian pesos ($878 million) in the fourth quarter of 2009, 18% less than in the same period in 2008, the company said in a statement Monday.

The net profit is lower than the COP2 trillion expected by five analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

The company’s non-consolidated net profit for the full 2009 was COP5.26 trillion, down from COP11.63 trillion in 2008. Earnings per share were COP129.87 for the full 2009.

The decline is mainly due to lower oil prices, analysts said. The decline is much smaller than the 30%, 77% and 70% declines registered in the first three quarters of 2009, as oil price recovered and as the company boosted output.

Ecopetrol’s average gross output, before royalties transferred to the government, was 576,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day in the fourth quarter, up from 456,000 barrels a day in the fourth quarter 2008.

The average output in 2009 was 521,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, up from 447,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day.

For the first time, the company released both consolidated and non-consolidated data.

Ecopetrol’s consolidated net profit in the fourth quarter was COP1.72 trillion, while the consolidated net profit for the full 2009 was COP5.13 trillion.

Ecopetrol acquired stakes in several companies in Colombia and abroad in 2009. Some of those operations, like Maurel & Prom’s former Colombian unit Hocol SA, generate revenues to Ecopetrol, while other exploration efforts in Peru, Brazil and the Gulf of Mexico are still in the investment phase.

The company is 89.9% controlled by the Colombian government. (Inti Landauro / Dow Jones)

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