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Ecopetrol Falls Most Since June as Profit Declines

Ecopetrol SA (ECOPETL), Colombia’s largest oil company, dropped the most in more than four months after profit declined for a second straight quarter.

Shares fell 4.5 percent to 5,500 pesos at the close in Bogota, the biggest drop since June 25. The shares have gained 31 percent this year, beating a 15 percent return by the benchmark Colcap Index.

Rising spending on protection for its pipelines and fields from guerrilla attacks and declining sales volumes led Ecopetrol’s profit to fall. Net income slid 22 percent from a year earlier to 3.23 trillion pesos ($1.76 billion), the Bogota- based company said yesterday after markets closed.

Sales volumes for Ecopetrol, the world’s seventh-largest oil firm by market capitalization, fell after delays in environmental permits for production and transportation disruptions in July and August. Costs also rose because of maintenance at a refinery in Santander province and a one-time adjustment to an oilfield investment in the year-earlier period, according to a company filing yesterday.

Ecopetrol may cut its annual production goal as it will be “virtually impossible to achieve” after this quarter, Juan David Pineros, a Medellin-based analyst at Interbolsa SA, said in a report today. Permit delays and transport interruptions may continue into the first half of 2013, Pineros said.

Rising Output

Production climbed 1.6 percent from a year earlier to 743,100 barrels a day. Ecopetrol last cut its output forecast in July to 780,000 barrels a day from 800,000 barrels a day for the year after guerrillas increased attacks on oil infrastructure.

Ecopetrol will meet its target as production is projected to increase in many of its fields, Chief Executive Officer Javier Gutierrez said today in a conference call with analysts. A Cupiagua field project will add 24,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, he said.

The company estimates lost output of around 35,000 barrels a day so far this year, including impact from sabotage and government permit delays, he said. Attacks on oil pipelines in the Andean nation rose to 117 in the first 8 months of the year, from 21 in the same period in 2011, according to government figures.

Attacks on Ecopetrol’s installations “significantly” declined in October, Gutierrez said.

The government won’t present a bill to Congress this year to allow it to sell a stake in Ecopetrol, Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas said in an interview last month. The Colombian government owns an 88.5 percent stake in Ecopetrol.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christine Jenkins in Bogota at cjenkins28@bloomberg.net

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

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