July 1, 2016 / 6:12 PM / 4 years ago

Colombia's Ecopetrol to open new wells in Rubiales, keep output steady

BOGOTA, July 1 (Reuters) - Colombia’s state-owned oil company Ecopetrol SA will drill hundreds of new wells in the Rubiales oilfield, depending on crude prices, in a bid to keep the area’s output at 135,000 barrels per day, the company’s president said on Friday.

Ecopetrol took full control of the camp, Colombia’s largest, this week, after Canada’s Pacific Exploration handed over its previous 43 percent stake.

“To keep current production we need an intense opening of new wells; at the present price it’s challenging,” Ecopetrol president Juan Carlos Echeverry told local radio station Caracol.

“We are going to start a campaign of drilling in October with 35 wells during the last three months of 2016,” Echeverry said, adding the company could drill up to 1,000 new wells in coming years, depending on oil prices.

The handover from Pacific, which is in the midst of a complex restructuring, comes as Ecopetrol is selling off non-oil related investments amid low global prices for crude, which have hit national income in the Andean country.

Echeverry did not say how much investment would be required for the new perforations. Ecopetrol cut its 2016 budget by around $1.6 billion because of low crude prices.

The company estimates full control of Rubiales, located in Meta province some 250 kilometers (155 miles) southeast of the capital Bogota, will increase its company-wide output by 60,000 bpd.

Ecopetrol, the country’s biggest company, produced 736,600 bpd in total across all its fields in the first quarter. So far this year average oil output in Colombia is 933,575 bpd, according to the mines and energy ministry. (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by David Gregorio)

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