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Colombia, Venezuela to Study Ecopetrol Ventures, Pipeline

March 28 (Bloomberg) -- Colombia will consider oil pipeline, exploration and production ventures for state-run Ecopetrol SA with Venezuela as the two nations strengthen ties.

Colombian Mines and Energy Minister Mauricio Cardenas and Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez will discuss a possible oil pipeline linking Colombia’s Pacific coast with Venezuela at a meeting today in the port city of Cartagena, northern Colombia.

The meeting is of ’’strategic importance for Colombian-Venezuela relations,’’ Cardenas said in an e-mailed statement.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has sought to improve ties with President Hugo Chavez since taking office in 2010 by reviving trade, renewing accords to supply electricity and natural gas and considering ventures with Ecopetrol in Venezuela. Relations between the countries deteriorated during the prior administration of President Alvaro Uribe, who accused Venezuela of harboring Colombian rebels. Chavez has denied the claims.

The neighboring countries also are considering a project to carry Venezuelan natural gas through Colombia to Central America, according to the statement.

Ecopetrol, Colombia’s largest oil company, has increased production by investing in new fields, while output growth at state-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA has stagnated.

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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