February 27, 2019 / 3:37 PM / 24 days ago

UPDATE 1-Ecopetrol to pay Colombia $2.64 bln in profits and dividends

(Adds 2021 output goal, quote)

BOGOTA, Feb 27 (Reuters) - The Colombian government will receive $2.64 billion in 2018 profits and extraordinary dividends, state-run oil producer Ecopetrol said on Wednesday, a day after reporting an annual profit that reached a five-year high.

The 8.18 trillion peso figure includes extra resources the company had in reserve but decided to pay out given its secure financial position, Ecopetrol said in a statement.

Minority shareholders will get 1.06 trillion pesos ($342 million).

The announcement comes as Colombia, owner of more than 88 percent of Ecopetrol, is evaluating whether to sell up to 8.9 percent of its share in the company to fill a funding gap in this year’s budget.

The company is targeting an output of between 750,000 and 770,000 barrels per day equivalent for 2021, Chief Executive Felipe Bayon said on a call with investors on Wednesday.

For this year the production goal is between 720,000 and 730,000 bpd and for 2020 between 740,000 and 760,000 bpd.

Ecopetrol also wants to continually replace all reserves regardless of price fluctuations, Bayon said.

Growth projections so far do not include any purchases of new assets or the possible development of non-conventional deposits, like those that could be explored with fracking, he added.

Ecopetrol on Tuesday reported a net profit for 2018 of 11.55 trillion pesos ($3.72 billion), a five-year high and a 74.6 percent increase over the year before.

Fourth-quarter net profit was 2.64 trillion pesos, down 22.8 percent from the same period in 2017, the result of lower crude prices and accounting adjustments.

Ecopetrol fell just short of its 2018 exploration and production spending goal of between $3 billion to $3.5 billion, spending $2.9 billion.

The company has said it will invest between $3.5 billion and $4 billion in 2019 as part of an ambitious plan to boost production and explore for more oil to replenish dwindling reserves.

The company plans to dig 640 development wells in 2019, Bayon said.

Some 80 percent of the investment will be focused in upstream projects, mostly in Colombia.

$1 = 3,095.29 Colombian pesos Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra and Julia Symmes Cobb Editing by Bill Trott and Steve Orlofsky

Nuestros Estándares:Los principios Thomson Reuters
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