UPDATE 1-Ecopetrol 3rd-qtr profit plunges 41 pct, oil output lower
(Adds CEO quote, details on operations)
BOGOTA Oct 31 (Reuters) - Colombia's state-owned oil company, Ecopetrol, reported a 41 percent drop in third-quarter profit on Friday, due to lower oil prices and a fall in crude output.
Consolidated net profit, including earnings from subsidiaries, totaled 2.28 trillion pesos ($1.11 billion) for the quarter, compared with 3.86 trillion pesos in the same period a year earlier, the company said in a statement.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, EBITDA or cash flow, fell 32 percent to 5.47 trillion pesos.
The company's consolidated oil and gas production, which includes subsidiaries, fell 5.7 percent from the third quarter last year to 754,800 barrels per day equivalent, on top of a sharp decline in oil prices in the period.
"The quarter's results were visibly affected by the international scenario that led to a drop in crude export prices of $9.4," Chief Executive Javier Gutierrez said in the statement.
He said the sharp weakening of Colombia's peso during the period also inflated the company's dollar-denominated debt in peso terms.
Ecopetrol cited restricted availability of water and problems with local communities near to its operations as two key reasons for the fall in production this year versus last.
Local communities' resistance to the presence of extractive industries has intensified since a 2011 law change cut the share of royalties paid directly to local authorities hosting oil and mining projects.
Production rose, however, by 3 percent from the second quarter, Ecopetrol said, because of a reduction in the number of attacks by leftist guerrilla groups, who frequently bomb oil pipelines, and an increase in output from the Chichimene field.
($1 = 2061.0000 Colombian pesos) (Reporting by Peter Murphy; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
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