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Pacific Surges on Profit Win as Colombia Output at Record

Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp. exceeded analysts’ earnings estimates as Latin America’s largest non-state-owned oil producer increased Colombian production while containing costs. Shares posted a record gain.

Fourth-quarter net income of $143 million, or 0.44 cents a share, compared with a loss of $23.8 million, or 8 cents, a year earlier, the company that trades in Bogota and Toronto said in a statement distributed today by PRNewswire. Adjusted net income beat the $134 million average estimate of eight analysts by 13 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Pacific Rubiales is increasing production in the region after making at least 10 acquisitions of companies and oil block stakes over the past two years, while working to reduce transport costs of heavy crude in Colombia’s Llanos basin. It expects to generate as much as $1.4 billion in infrastructure asset sales to reduce debt and buy back shares.

“They surpassed their production target and reduced costs,” Maria Adelaida Velasquez, an analyst at Serfinco, said by phone from Medellin after starting coverage of the company this week with a buy recommendation. “The annual results met with company promises made at the start of the year.”

Shares surged 11 percent to 33,320 pesos in Bogota, the steepest advance since December 2009 when Bloomberg records begin, reducing a decline this year to 1.7 percent.

Record Output

The company, which is considering another overseas listing, agreed to buy Petrominerales Ltd. for C$935 million ($845 million) in September, giving it access to low-density crude, which is cheaper to transport than the heavy oil that makes up the bulk of its reserves.

Average net fourth-quarter output reached a record 134,313 barrels of oil equivalent a day, up 24 percent from a year ago. The company is targeting average daily production this year of 148,000 to 162,000 barrels.

Fourth-quarter adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization rose to $655 million from $430 million, compared with the $668 million average estimate.

Sales of midstream assets are expected to continue through next year, the proceeds from which would be used to reduce debt and buy back shares, the company said today.

Pacific Rubiales is proposing to share oil extracted from one of Colombia’s largest oil fields, Rubiales, with state-controlled Ecopetrol SA, Colombian Mines and Energy Minister Amylkar Acosta said Feb. 27. The company’s license to operate Rubiales expires in mid-2016.

Mexico Office

“This year will be marked by a return to large heavy oil field development in Colombia, modest growth in light oil production onshore Colombia and offshore Peru and an exciting exploration program targeting both the appraisal of prior year discoveries and new high impact exploration targets,” Chief Executive Officer Ronald Pantin said in the statement.

Pacific has been studying heavy-oil opportunities in Mexico for about two years and plans to open an office in Mexico City, Pantin said today during a conference call. The company is developing a thermal technology called STAR to increase heavy-oil recovery rates.

Mexico’s Congress approved a bill to open up the country’s oil industry to private investment in December.

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