Ecopetrol Sets 798,000-Barrel Daily Production Target for 2013

Ecopetrol SA (ECOPETL), the world’s eighth- largest publicly-traded oil company this year, announced a 2013 production target of 798,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, lower than its original target for 2012.

The company plans to invest $9.5 billion next year to reach its target of 1 million barrels of oil per day by 2015, according to a regulatory filing today. Ecopetrol will invest $6.59 billion, while its subsidiaries will invest $2.96 billion, the company said.

“They’re being more conservative, the output target is a small increase from this year’s, which I don’t think they’ll be able to meet,” said Mauricio Restrepo, an analyst at Bolsa y Renta in Medellin. “This year they’ve had delays in exploration, and the company’s growth hasn’t been as high.”

Ecopetrol, which is 88.5 percent-owned by the Colombian government, in October reported a 22 percent drop in profit in the third quarter from a year earlier, as sales volume fell and the cost of protecting its pipelines and fields rose. The company cut its 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.

Output losses from attacks by guerrillas have since fallen to fewer than 6,000 barrels a day, from 10,000 barrels a day earlier this year, CEO Javier Gutierrez said Dec. 10. In Havana last month, the government re-started peace talks with guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to seek to end the 5-decade civil conflict.

Attacks on oil pipelines almost tripled to 142 in the first ten months of the year, from 52 in the same period in 2011, according to Defense Ministry statistics.

Ninety-five percent of next year’s investment will be in Colombia, according to the statement.

Average production climbed 4.7 percent in the first nine months of this year from the same period a year earlier to 750,100 barrels a day.

To contact the reporters on this story: Christine Jenkins in Bogota at cjenkins28@bloomberg.net; Andrea Jaramillo in Bogota at ajaramillo1@bloomberg.net

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

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