Ecopetrol CEO expects 2015 profits to fall by half

martes 19 de mayo de 2015 17:21 GYT

BOGOTA May 19 (Reuters) - Ecopetrol, Colombia's state-run oil producer, will likely see profits halve this year over last, Chief Executive Officer Juan Carlos Echeverry said on Tuesday, due to a plunge in oil prices.

The company earned 7.5 trillion pesos ($3.02 billion) in 2014, already a 43 percent decline versus the year before that, meaning net earnings this year would be around $1.5 billion, according to Echeverry's comments to a Congressional commission.

Profits in the first quarter of 2015 were down 96 percent from a year earlier, which suggests Echeverry expects results to improve in the coming quarters.

Oil prices have risen 26 percent since mid-March to $57 per barrel by Tuesday.

Echeverry estimated the company's 2015 revenue at 42 trillion pesos, without specifying further.

He said the company is looking at selling some of its smallest oil fields as part of a planned divestment program to boost cash flow and focus on the company's most productive assets after cutting its investment budget for 2015.

Fields producing around 20,000 barrels per day would be small enough to be considered for disposal, Echeverry said.

Ecopetrol announced on Tuesday it would sell its 6.87 percent stake in energy generator Empresa de Energia de Bogota (EEB) for 1.1 trillion pesos ($398.9 million).

Ecopetrol produces more than half of Colombia's million barrel-per-day output.

($1 = 2,484.5 Colombian pesos) (Reporting by Carlos Vargas; Writing by Peter Murphy; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)