Colombia’s Ecopetrol 2020 net profit down 87.3%, to invest up to $15 billion by 2023

(Reuters) – Colombia’s majority state-run oil company, Ecopetrol, will make up to $15 billion of organic investment between 2021 and 2023, it said on Tuesday, as it reported an 87.3% drop in 2020 net profit.

The company will invest $12 billion to $15 billion over the next three years, Ecopetrol said in a statement, averaging $4 billion to $5 billion a year.

The investment plan is aimed at ensuring profitable growth based on Brent oil at $45 per barrel in 2021, rising to $50 and more in later years, Chief Executive Felipe Bayon said in a statement.

In December the company said it expected to invest $3.5 billion to $4 billion in 2021, which is included in the updated plan, Bayon said at a press conference.

Ecopetrol’s 2020 net profit fell to 1.69 trillion pesos ($470.1 million) from 13.3 trillion pesos the previous year, it said in a statement. Fourth-quarter net profit fell to 675 billion pesos from 4 trillion pesos in the year-earlier period.

Colombia’s oil and gas industry was battered last year as the coronavirus pandemic stifled demand.

Industry investment in production fell almost 50% from 2019 to $1.7 billion, according to the Colombian Petroleum Association (ACP), while national oil output dropped to an average of 781,300 barrels per day, below expectations.

“Ecopetrol managed to meet this unprecedented challenge, demonstrating its resilience and ability to adapt to an adverse and volatile environment,” Bayon said.

Full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell 45.9% to 16.8 trillion pesos.

Production for the year averaged 696,800 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), down 3.9% from 724,800 boepd in 2019, Ecopetrol said.

With its investment plan, the company aims to raise production to an average of 750,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2023, it said.

($1 = 3,590.37 Colombian pesos)

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