(Adds breakdown of budget, quote from company statement)
By Peter Murphy
BOGOTA, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Colombia’s state-run oil company Ecopetrol will invest $7.86 billion in 2015, down from $10.6 billion budgeted for this year, the company said in a regulatory filing on Monday, following the plunge in global crude prices.
The investment plan estimated average consolidated production of 760,000 barrels per day next year, a figure that includes quantities produced by its wholly or partly-owned subsidiaries or 710,000 barrels by Ecopetrol S.A. alone.
That is down from forecasts for 770,000 and 819,000 barrels per day equivalent for 2014, but output has fallen short of those figures. Consolidated output from January to September including gas was equivalent to 751,900 barrels per day.
“Ecopetrol revised its growth project portfolio and put in place a strict operation cost reduction process, giving priority to strategic investments that maximize value for the shareholder,” Ecopetrol said in a statement.
The cost-cutting plan would save $3.57 billion in operational and other costs, it said.
The company announced last Friday its board was ousting Chief Executive Officer Javier Gutierrez after eight years on the job but said it had not yet found a replacement. Ecopetrol shares have lost two thirds of their value in two years.
By the end of September, Ecopetrol had invested only $5.6 billion of the $10.6 billion it has planned to invest this year. Two executives from the company told Reuters this month it was evaluating where it could slow investment after global oil prices fell from $113 in mid-June to about $60 now.
The budget for exploration will fall to less than one third of the planned spending for 2014, to $503 million from $1.56 billion. Spending on production would fall to $4.15 billion versus $5.03 billion this year.
The budget for refining drop to $1.8 billion from $2.1 billion for this year. Spending related to non-conventional or shale hydrocarbons, not yet produced in Colombia, would fall to $40 million from $240 million planned for this year.
The 2015 transport budget was set at $1.23 billion, down from $1.34 billon for this year.
Ecopetrol said last month new wells to be drilled at its biggest fields, Chichimene and Castilla, would help raise production.
Shares in Colombia’s largest company, almost 88.5 percent of which are government-owned, ended down 2.9 percent on Monday at 1,815 Colombian pesos ($0.75) per share.
$1 = 2,427.0000 Colombian pesos Additional reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by Peter Galloway and Tom Brown