Colombia’s Ecopetrol to focus on offshore exploration, key fields

Colombian state-owned oil company Ecopetrol will cope with falling oil prices by bolstering exploration offshore, as well as focusing on production of high-yield wells, the company’s new president said on Tuesday.

Ecopetrol will focus on about 20 oilfields that produce 80 percent of its onshore crude and have output costs of between $7 and $17 per barrel, leaving wells with higher extraction expenses to other companies, Juan Carlos Echeverry said in an interview with local Caracol radio.

The company, which is 88 percent owned by the government, also will focus its efforts in areas like the Gulf of Mexico.

“Obviously the marginal fields will be left to other companies and we’ll concentrate on our key fields,” Echeverry said, one day after taking the helm of the $55 billion company.

“We have to be very selective about where we invest – Colombia’s coast, the Gulf of Mexico and key production in the country to keep cash flow – are the three priority focuses at this moment,” said Echeverry, a former finance minister.

Ecopetrol’s net profits dropped 42.7 percent last year because of the global fall in crude prices, lower sales and guerrilla attacks against pipelines.

The company cut its 2015 investment plan by 26 percent, to $7.86 billion.

Ecopetrol is prepared to take over operating duties at Colombia’s largest oilfield, Campo Rubiales, after deciding not to renew the contract Canadian company Pacific Rubiales had to run it. That contract expires in mid-2016.

“We are completely capable of operating the field but the board, based on objective analysis and an evaluation of alternatives, will decide who will be the operator,” Echeverry said.

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