Lawmakers Show Conditional Support for 20% Sale of Ecopetrol

Five Colombian lawmakers have presented written opinions that support government plans to sell 20% of state oil company Ecopetrol, business newspaper Portafolio reported.

But the lawmakers cautioned the Ecopetrol stake must be sold to private individual investors with the government keeping the remaining 80%.

The lawmakers want to ensure "an ample number of citizens" are able to buy shares in the company.

The lawmakers are senators William Montes, Miguel de la Espriella, Arturo Char and Alvaro Araujo and representative Bladimiro Cuello. The five have been in talks with the executive branch, which is directing the sales process.

EXPERT OPINION

Luis Ferney Moreno, energy and mining law department director at Bogotá's Externado university, agrees with the lawmakers.

"That is the mechanism I would choose: an association between the state and the individual investors," he told BNamericas.

Colombia's state-controlled transmission company ISA underwent a similar process whereby individual investors were given a chance to buy stakes in the company.

"We have experience doing this," he said.

Ecopetrol reserves stand at some 1.5Bb of oil. The company reported in July that output had averaged 538,709b/d in May, the highest in almost three years.

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