Colombia’s state oil company Ecopetrol could boost its oil and natural gas output 5 percent by the end of the year, Chief Executive Javier Gutierrez said on Monday.
Ecopetrol wants to lift output to 620,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from 590,000 boepd recorded at the end of June as it reaps the benefits of a government crackdown on leftist rebels that has measurably increased security in the Andean nation’s rural areas in recent years.
The company’s exploration and production budget may rise above this year’s $4.3 billion in 2011, Gutierrez said in an interview with Reuters, as the company seeks to expand output by 12 percent annually to reach its target of 1 million bpd by 2015.
Ecopetrol, which first sold shares publicly in 2007, may offer new shares to investors in 2011 or 2012, Gutierrez told reporters later at a New York Stock Exchange event. The company earlier sold a 10 percent stake, and has authorization to sell another 10 percent. The timing and size of any new share sale will depend on funding needs, Gutierrez told reporters.
To help meet shorter-term financing needs, Ecopetrol has already sought approval to sell $500 million in bonds in the Colombian market, Gutierrez said.
Ecopetrol should close a previously announced deal with partner Talisman to buy BP’s assets in Colombia over the next month. However, he said Ecopetrol is not currently seeking any major new acquisitions but looking to consolidate existing assets.
The company is also looking for partners to invest in an export-oriented Colombian pipeline project known as the Bicentenario de Colombia, whose initial plans are estimated to cost $1.2 billion, said chief financial officer Adriana Echeverri.
The pipeline project is slated by late 2011 to pump 120,000 barrels a day of heavy crude from Colombia’s central Llanos region to Banadia further north, where it would segue in with Colombia’s existing Cano Limon export pipeline.
Sixteen oil producers in the Llanos region have signed letters of intent to participate in the pipeline, Echeverri said, including Pacific Rubiales and Petrominerales Ltd.
Bicentenario may later be extended all the way to Covenas, Colombia on the Pacific Coast and ship up to 600,000 barrels a day by 2013, at a total cost of near $4.2 billion, according to a company presentation given to reporters. (Joshua Schneyer / Reuters)