Ecopetrol Joins Shell to Seek Oil and Gas in Gulf of Mexico

BOGOTA Dec 12, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Colombia's state-owned oil company Ecopetrol SA (ECOPETROL.BO) has teamed up with Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) to seek oil and gas in a deep-water area in the U.S.-controlled part of the Gulf of Mexico.

The new partnership, which also includes Newfield Exploration Co. (NFX), will seek oil and gas in the blocks 777 and 778, the prospect Clearwater, in the area known as Garden Banks, Ecopetrol said Wednesday in a statement.

Shell will hold 65% in the new venture, while Ecopetrol will own 25% and Newfield 10%.

"Everything will depend on how things would go, but the total amount invested might reach $100 million and we would go with a part corresponding to our stake," Ecopetrol's Chief Executive Javier Gutierrez told Dow Jones Newswires.

The contract is part of the Ecopetrol's strategy to expand internationally to diversify from Colombia. The state-owned company, which recently listed on the local stock market, already secured the rights to seek oil in several areas in Brazil and Peru.

Shares of Ecopetrol Wednesday fell 1.7% to 2,010 Colombian pesos ($1), while the local benchmark IGBC index fell 0.7%.

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