By Luis Jaime Acosta
BOGOTA Dec 5 Colombia's state oil company
Ecopetrol said on Thursday the onshore Cano Sur Este
block it owns is commercially viable with proven reserves of
22.4 million barrels, an important top-up to supplies that had
diminished in recent years.
The find, though equating only to about a month's worth of
Colombian crude output, is significant for the company, marking
the first time in a decade it has declared commercially viable
an oil area it fully owns and where it plans to operate alone.
Ecopetrol said it expected Cano Sur Este in the southeastern
province of Meta to produce 25,000 barrels per day (bpd) by
2016, up from 1,727 bpd at present. The company will invest $656
million in the block and drill 135 wells there. The site could
contain as much as 492 million barrels of crude, Ecopetrol said.
Ecopetrol shares rose 1.8 percent by mid-morning to 4,045
pesos ($2.08) following the announcement made at a press
conference held by Ecopetrol's Vice President Hector Manosalva.
"The results obtained in Cano Sur confirm the potential of
this zone in heavy crudes, one of the company's focus areas,"
Chief Executive Javier Gutierrez said separately in a statement.
Cano Sur Este accounts for about one tenth of the larger
611,000 hectare Cano Sur block, all of which is owned by
Ecopetrol. The density of crude produced there since 2011 during
exploration and testing, which totaled 516,881 barrels, was 13.5
API, Ecopetrol said.
Boosting reserves has been a priority for Latin America's
fourth-biggest oil producer after Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil.
By the end of 2012, Ecopetrol's reserves were 1.88 billion
barrels of oil equivalent. The proven reserves in Cano Sur would
add about 1 percent to that amount.
The publicly traded company plans to spend $75 billion by
2020 to increase oil and gas production to 1.3 million barrels
of oil equivalent per day (boed), from current output which has
neared 1 million boed in recent months.
Nationwide, by the end of 2012, Colombia had reserves of 2.3
billion barrels, up 5.2 percent from 2011, guaranteeing domestic
supplies for 6.9 years.
Colombia's security situation improved significantly in the
last decade due to a U.S.-backed offensive against the country's
two left-wing guerrilla groups, the FARC and smaller ELN, though
attacks by the rebels on oil pipelines that pass through remote
areas appear to be on the rise again.