Colombian Govt. to Sell Gas Transporter Ecogas

Colombia's government has decided to privatize natural gas transport company Ecogas, the government announced. The move aims at reducing transport rates, thereby encouraging the growth of the country's natural gas sector, national planning department (DNP) deputy director Alejandro Gaviria said, state news service CNE reported. "Gas transport prices are expected to go down in the medium term after the privatization, and therefore prices to users will be lower, which will help in the strategy of making natural gas very common," he said.

Ecogas was created in 1997 to administrate the gas transport infrastructure of state oil company Ecopetrol. The company has over 3,600km of pipelines and supplies 17 distributors (which represent 32% of company income), seven industrial clients (2%), eight power generation plants (17%), four traders (48%) and three vehicular natural gas (VNG) suppliers (1%). The company is profitable: in 2002 it posted net profits of 107bn pesos (today some US$38mn) and in the period 1999-2002 increased its operating profits by an annual average of 13.8%. Natural gas demand in 2002 was just over 600 million cubic feet a day (mcf/d), according to the government's social and economic policy council (Conpes), which estimates the figure will double by 2010. The government announcement is a preliminary one, and details of how the sale will be structured are not available yet.

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