Ecopetrol Venture May Start Drilling In 2012

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Ecopetrol, Colombia's state-run oil producer, and Canada's Talisman Energy plan to begin exploratory drilling for their venture starting in 2012 with an eye toward production as early as 2016. Equion Energia, as the venture is known, was formed when the companies acquired BP's Colombia assets last year.

BP (BP), Europe's second-largest oil company, sold the assets to Ecopetrol and Talisman (TLM) as part of its plan to raise cash for expenses associated with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The Ecopetrol/Talisman venture could participate in the oil auctions Colombia is expected to hold next year, according to Bloomberg News.

Petrobras (PBR), Brazil's state-controlled oil producer, is also a partner in the venture. The exploratory wells that are being planned for 2012 are for natural gas.

In March, Colombia pumped a record 884,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. The country is South America's third-largest oil producer behind Brazil and Venezuela. Ecopetrol (EC) accounts for 60% of the country's oil production.