Ecopetrol Says Guerrilla Attacks Have ‘Low’ Impact on Output

Ecopetrol SA (ECOPETL), Colombia’s largest oil company, said the nation is close to production of 1 million barrels a day as rebel sabotage has a “low impact” on the company’s output, according to its chief executive officer.

Ecopetrol, based in Bogota, is producing about 750,000 barrels a day, CEO Javier Gutierrez said today in New York on Bloomberg Television’s “Surveillance.” Guerrillas have targeted energy infrastructure including pipelines.

“The last year we had an increase in terms of the attacks,” Gutierrez said. “But really it has a low impact on our production -- just 1 percent.”

State-controlled Ecopetrol is the seventh-most valuable oil company worldwide after embarking on an $80 billion investment plan through 2020 to produce 1.3 million barrels a day. Rising output has made Colombia the third-largest oil supplier in South America and prompted guerrillas to more than quadruple attacks on pipelines this year to deprive the state of revenue.

Ecopetrol’s market value of $120.3 billion surpassed Norway’s Statoil ASA (STL) and the U.K.’s BG Group Plc (BG/), according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Gutierrez reiterated his company’s plans to produce an average of the equivalent of 780,000 barrels a day of oil this year.

Oil Auction

Sabotage probably will prevent Ecopetrol from meeting that goal, said Juan David Ballen, an analyst at Bogota-based brokerage Alianza Valores SA, which has a “hold” on the stock.

“It’s been a very difficult situation for them with all the attacks,” Ballen said in a phone interview. He forecasts full-year average output of about 755,000 barrels a day.

The company cut its target in July from 800,000 barrels a day after sabotage rose. Attacks on pipelines quadrupled to 88 in the first seven months of 2012 from 20 in the year earlier, according to estimates by the Defense Ministry.

Colombia’s oil industry is exporting more than 650,000 barrels a day as the government prepares to auction blocks this year, including unconventional energy blocks, he said.

Gutierrez later told reporters companies showing interest in such reserves in Colombia include Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips (COP) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc. (RDSA)

Selling Debt

Shell is evaluating information related to the auction, Bill Tanner, a Shell spokesman, said by telephone today. ConocoPhillips was notified that it is one of the pre-qualifiers for an oil and gas leasing round in Colombia, Davy Kong, a ConocoPhillips spokeswoman, said in an e-mail today.

Patrick McGinn, an Exxon spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement the company doesn’t comment on potential opportunities. The Irving, Texas-based company holds a stake in a block in central Colombia, he said. Exxon agreed to spend as much as $50 million to explore for shale oil in Colombia with Canacol Energy Ltd. (CNE), the latter said in an April 4 statement.

Ecopetrol will sell debt before it sells stock, and expects to issue peso- and dollar-denominated debt, Chief Financial Officer Adriana Echeverri told reporters today in New York. A debt sale will depend on next year’s spending plan that will be set near year-end, she said.

Ecopetrol’s third equity offering may be global, according to Echeverri. Last year, Ecopetrol raised 2.4 trillion pesos ($1.3 billion), below its target of 2.5 trillion pesos, amid a global equities rout. The Colombian government owns 88.5 percent of Ecopetrol.

Ecopetrol rose 0.4 percent to close at 5,300 pesos in Bogota.

Venezuela and Brazil are South America’s two largest oil suppliers.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sara Eisen in New York at seisen2@bloomberg.net; Heather Walsh in Bogota at hlwalsh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Attwood at jattwood3@bloomberg.net

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