UPDATE 1-Colombia Ecopetrol net profit falls on attacks, delays
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BOGOTA Feb 15 (Reuters) - Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol said on Friday its full-year 2012 consolidated net profit fell 4.4 percent to 14.78 trillion pesos ($8.25 billion) versus 2011 due to delays in environmental licenses, rebel attacks and protests.
Like other companies operating in Colombia, Latin America's fourth biggest oil producer, Ecopetrol has been hit by a rise in guerrilla assaults against oil facilities, delays in getting key permits and an increase in social protests.
"The year 2012 was very challenging for Ecopetrol. Various circumstances and operating environments had to be addressed to achieve growth and positive results for our shareholders," Ecopetrol President Javier Gutierrez said in a statement.
An Ecopetrol source said the decline in profits was due to lower-than-expected production because of environmental delays, rebel bombings of pipelines and protests by communities.
Oil production by the group, which includes operations outside Colombia, was 754,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in 2012, a rise of 4.1 percent versus 2011. In Colombia, Ecopetrol's output rose 4.8 percent to 702,000 boepd last year.
The company had set a 2012 production goal of 780,000 boepd for the group.
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In the fourth quarter, the company's consolidated net profit decreased 18.4 percent to 3.62 trillion pesos versus the same period in 2011. That was better than the 3.2 trillion pesos in the third quarter.
Group oil production was 762,000 boepd in the quarter, up 2.7 percent from the same period in 2011. Production within Colombia by Ecopetrol S.A. was 4.1 percent higher at 713,300 boepd in the period.
Ecopetrol said that fourth-quarter consolidated operating profit fell 33.3 percent to 4.96 trillion pesos versus a year earlier.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization decreased 23.6 percent in the fourth quarter, good for an EBITDA margin of 34 percent versus 42 percent a year before, it said.
A decade-long offensive by U.S.-backed Colombian troops has pushed guerrillas deeper into inhospitable jungles and mountains, but rebels still attack military and civilian targets, especially against the oil and mining sectors.
$1=1,790.61 Colombian pesos
(Reporting by Jack Kimball and Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by Leslie Adler)