Ecopetrol Could Ready Secondary By Month-End

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Ecopetrol, Colombia's state-run oil producer, could put the finishing touches on an eagerly awaited secondary share offering by the end of this month if it receives the necessary approvals from its board of directors and regulators, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing the company. The Ecopetrol offering could be ready as soon as July 27.

Ecopetrol (EC), the second-largest publicly traded oil company in South America behind Brazil's Petrobras (PBR), said the share sale could commence on July 27 and be completed by August 15. The sale could equal a maximum of 10% of the company though it is expected to be less than that amount.

The government is also seeking the approval of Congress to sell another 10% stake, with the funds assigned for large infrastructure projects and repairing the damages of devastating rains that lashed the country in the last months of 2010 and for much of this year, though the government has pledged to small that stake in small increments, the Journal reported.

Ecopetrol, which was producing 753,000 barrels of oil per day as mid-June, will use the cash to fund its expansion plans, which include a 2011 exploration and production budget of $8.5 billion. Colombia is South America's third-largest oil producer behind OPEC member Venezuela and Brazil.