Petrobras to Quadruple Colombian E&P Investment in 2006

Brazil's state oil company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) plans to quadruple its investment in exploration and production in Colombia's hydrocarbons sector to US$80mn in 2006, a spokesperson from Petrobras Colombia told BNamericas.

The company's 2006 investment plans includes E&P in the Colombia's eastern plains and offshore drilling on the Caribbean coast, among other undertakings, Colombian unit president Dirceu Abrahao told local paper El Mercurio.

However, E&P investment is only part of the company's plans for full integration in the sector, which includes commercial and refining activities, the paper reported.

Petrobras signed an agreement last week to buy Anglo-Dutch oil major Shell's 38 retail service stations in Colombia including its commercial fuels business, a lubricants blending facility in Puente Aranda and the Santa Marta base oil depot.

The company also intends to participate in the tender for the expansion of the Cartagena refinery, which will double processing capacity to 140,000 barrels of crude a day, the paper reported.

Colombia's state oil company Ecopetrol will conclude the pre-qualification process for the tender on January 20. Bids will be received by June 2006 and the contract awarded by July, according to Ecopetrol's timetable published on its website. Construction is scheduled to wrap up in 2010.

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