Gran Tierra’s Guidry Making Colombia Oil Deals His Top Priority

Gran Tierra Energy Inc. is making Colombian oil deals the focus of its expansion this year as the company steers investment plans away from Peru and Brazil, Chief Executive Officer Gary Guidry said.

The Calgary-based explorer of South American oil expects to close deals in the Andean nation before year-end to increase output and reserves, said Guidry, who took over as CEO earlier this month. He’s considering potential joint ventures, takeovers and asset purchases.

Gran Tierra is “very interested” in assets that Colombia’s state-run Ecopetrol SA is selling and may diversify its portfolio to include heavy oil and natural gas blocks to take advantage of a strong balance sheet, he said.

“We are taking off the blinders,” Guidry said Tuesday in a telephone interview from Calgary. “Gran Tierra’s platform is well positioned to consolidate and grow in all of the basins in Colombia.”

Guidry was named president and CEO of Gran Tierra on May 8 as part of a shake-up led by Toronto-based hedge fund West Face Capital Inc., which owns about 9.8 percent of the company. Guidry’s drilling plan for Colombia will be announced in June, when shareholders hold a general meeting.

West Face, run by Greg Boland, blamed a decline in Gran Tierra’s value since the beginning of 2011 on “failed high-risk, high-cost” exploration in Peru, Argentina and Brazil.

The oil producer may sell or seek joint ventures for assets in Peru and Brazil to ensure capital is focused on Colombia, Guidry said.

The company produced a daily average of 24,015 barrels of oil equivalent in the first quarter of 2015, mainly light oil from the Putumayo basin in southern Colombia.

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