Ecopetrol Prepares to Bid in Brazil's Round 8

Colombia's state oil company Ecopetrol plans to bid for exploration blocks in Brazil's November 28-29 eighth licensing round, Ecopetrol business development official Edgar Caro told BNamericas.

"We are here at this expo looking for opportunities," he said during the Rio Oil & Gas 2006 conference.

Ecopetrol has paid for data for the auction, at which Brazil's national hydrocarbons regulator ANP will offer 284 exploration blocks.

The decision to bid in Brazil is part of Ecopetrol's strategy to expand operations internationally, said Caro.

"If we win blocks here in Brazil, we will have to open an office within three months of signing the contracts."

The company aims to increase its international budget operations significantly to expand reserves abroad, he said, without giving details. In 2006, the company set aside US$150mn to invest outside Colombia.

Part of the international budget will come from the planned sale of 20% of the company's shares due to wrap up in the next 12 months.

Ecopetrol needs to increase its reserves and is looking at several other opportunities in Latin America.

Ecopetrol's reserves stands at some 1.5 billion barrels of oil. The company reported in July that output had averaged 538,709 barrels a day in May, the highest in almost three years.

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