Ecopetrol will not issue shares soon, will boost efforts to cut methane emissions -CEO

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View of the oil refinery Ecopetrol in Barrancabermeja, Colombia, March 1, 2017. Picture Taken March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga//File Photo

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BOGOTA, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Colombia's majority state-owned energy company Ecopetrol (ECO.CN) will not be issuing shares in the near future, chief executive Felipe Bayon said on Wednesday, while highlighting plans to tackle methane emissions.

Ecopetrol's board approved possible share issues which could reduce the state's stake in the oil producer to a minimum of 80%, after the purchase of a majority stake in energy conglomerate ISA. read more

Following a rise in oil prices there is less urgency for possible share placements, Bayon told Reuters.

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"It's an opportunity we have, a lever we can use if we want," he said in a video call. "But for now we aren't going to do the emission immediately - we have five years to do it."

Ecopetrol has earmarked some $600 million in its three-year business plan for the decarbonization of its operations.

The company is looking at various decarbonization initiatives, including pilot projects in hydrogen, carbon capture and utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies, Bayon said from Glasgow, where he is attending the COP26 climate conference.

Ecopetrol will step up plans to tackle methane emissions, he added.

Last month, the United States and European Union corralled more than 20 countries into a global pact to slash by 30% emissions of methane - a greenhouse gas and the biggest driver of climate change besides carbon dioxide. read more

"Right now we have 28% of our facilities measured from the point of view of methane emissions. By the end of the year, 95% of our facilities will have (methane) measurements," Bayon said.

Despite the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Ecopetrol is in a strong position, its chief executive said.

Ecopetrol could hit investments of some $3.5 billion this year and even more next year, Bayon said, without giving a figure.

The company will report its third-quarter results next week.

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Reporting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Aurora Ellis

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