BP to Begin Drilling Program in Colombia

Preliminary drilling by BP will begin in July along northeastern Colombia's Niscota exploration block, where Ecopetrol has estimated potential reserves of 900 million barrels of oil. BP has made the decision to proceed with the drilling following positive results from seismic studies conducted in Niscota. The seismic studies have been completed and plans are underway for drilling to start sometime in July. Results from the test drilling are expected to be made public in mid-2003. Under the terms of an exploration contract signed in 2000, BP and Ecopetrol would evenly divide revenues from oil production in Niscota.

BP operates Colombia's biggest oil field of Cusiana-Cupiagua, which is currently producing approximately 260,000 barrels per day (bpd), down from a peak of 484,000 bpd in 1999. The Cusiana-Cupiagua discovery has been BP's largest to date in Latin America.

The first test well in the Niscota basin would be located in a mountainous zone in the municipality of Paya, in the eastern Boyaca province, about 125 miles (200 km) northeast of Colombia's capital, Bogota.