Colombia's state oil firm Ecopetrol reaches accord to avoid strike

BOGOTA Sun Aug 24, 2014 8:58am EDT

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BOGOTA Aug 24 (Reuters) - Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol reached agreement with two of its main labor unions to avoid possible strike action that could have reduced output from the Andean nation, the company said late on Saturday.

Ecopetrol reached an accord that runs until 2018 on pay and social benefits with the USO and ADECO unions which represent the bulk of its 8,800 workers. It reached partial agreement with the SINDISPETROL union but was unable to settle with a fourth group, ASPEC, it said in a statement.

Oil is one of Colombia's main drivers of economic expansion, but the government has expressed concern in recent months that revenue from the sector is beginning to decline and that this could impact the nation's future growth.

Attacks by Marxist rebels on pipelines and increased operating costs have slowed output from Latin America's fourth biggest producer.

Ecopetrol produced about 750,200 barrels per day through the first half of the year and plans to build output to 1.3 million bpd by 2020. Colombia produced just over 1 million bpd in 2013. (Reporting by Helen Murphy; Additional reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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