Colombia's Ecopetrol says will reverse dip in crude output
BOGOTA Nov 4 (Reuters) - Colombia's state-run oil company Ecopetrol said on Tuesday it would raise daily average output by 10,000 barrels in October, November and December and raise output further in the first half of 2015.
Ecopetrol's consolidated crude oil and gas production fell 5.7 percent in the third quarter to 754,800 barrels per day from the same period a year earlier, contributing to a 41 percent plunge in profits in the quarter.
A rise in output could help the company's stock, which has plunged almost 30 percent this year. Shares traded on the Bogota stock exchange hit their lowest this year on Tuesday, dropping 4.3 percent to 2,630 pesos ($1.27) per share.
Extra output from the Chichimene and Castilla fields should boost supply as new wells come online at those sites and as infrastructure projects improve water and crude handling.
"We will ramp up production supported by the investment plan," said Ecopetrol CFO Magda Manosalva, one of the company's executives speaking on a conference call with analysts.
Manosalva said the company's largest field, Castilla, has been producing 104,000 barrels per day on average so far this year and would reach around 116,000 barrels per day by the end of the fourth quarter. Output should rise to around 150,000 by the middle of 2015.
She said the field had potential to reach 200,000 barrels a day.
Output at Chichimene, the company's second-largest field, rose to a record 66,000 barrels per day in the third quarter. Its output is expected to continue rising to between 75,000 and 80,000 barrels per day by December, Ecopetrol executives said.
The company's results have been hit by a sharp fall in oil prices in the last quarter, on top of lower production, which it has been addressing by investing in infrastructure improvements and pilot projects to boost oil recovery from wells.
Bomb attacks by the country's leftist guerrilla groups, which can shut oil pipelines for several days and cut output, have reduced in number so far this year, the company says. (U.S. $1 = 2,076 Colombian pesos) (Reporting by Peter Murphy; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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