Ecopetrol Says Protests Reduce Colombian Oil Field Output

Ecopetrol SA (ECOPETL), Colombia’s largest oil producer, said protests are reducing supplies from a field in northern Colombia.

Protesters have blockaded roadways and prevented workers from entering the Ciras Infantas field since this weekend, reducing output, a company official who can’t be identified because of corporate policy, said today by telephone.

Latin American workers are seeking improved labor conditions amid sustained demand for commodities including oil, which has rallied 15 percent in three months. Protests in Colombia last year cut output at fields owned by Ecopetrol and Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp. (PRE), preventing the nation from meeting a 2011 production target of 1 million barrels a day, said analyst Nicolas Bernal at brokerage Ultrabursatiles SA.

“They want to take advantage of the industry’s bonanza,” he said in a telephone interview from Bogota. “There has been a notable push in foreign investment and locals see that.”

The brokerage rates Ecopetrol shares a “hold.” Bernal doesn’t own shares of the company.

Colombian oil production will rise 18 percent to an average of 1.1 million barrels a day this December from 930,000 barrels a day last month, Mines and Energy Minister Mauricio Cardenas said in an interview last week. The country is South America’s third-largest oil producer after Venezuela and Brazil.

The Ciras Infantas field operated by Ecopetrol was producing 28,000-to-30,000 barrels a day of crude prior to the protests, according to the official.

Shares of Ecopetrol slid 85 pesos, or 1.9 percent, to 4,395 pesos at 12:42 p.m. in Bogota.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Walsh in Bogota at hlwalsh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net

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