Ecopetrol Considers Caribbean Seismic Options

Monday, September 17, 2001

Colombia's state oil company Ecopetrol is considering its options for a 500 sq. km 3D seismic study in its offshore Caribbean territory next year, a company source told

Ecopetrol could invite a private sector company to partner it in a joint venture, or simply award the study to a private company and allow it to sell the results to whomever it liked, the source said.

Any resulting production contract would be in an association contract with Ecopetrol, in which the state company would take 50%.

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In other seismic studies, Ecopetrol is negotiating final details of two 2D seismic study contracts with local company GAPS, the source said, adding that contracts would be signed once the talks are completed.

GAPS was awarded contracts for 84km of 2D seismic in the Torcorama program in Cesar department at end-August. It beat Sismopetrol, which remains as a second choice in the event of any problems with GAPS; Grant Geophysical, whose economic offer was too high; and Baker Hughes de Colombia, whose offer was not considered because of legal failings.

In the Quebradalarga program, in Santander del Sur department, GAPS will perform 115km of 2D seismic. In the event of any problems with the contract, Grant is the second choice company.

The final price of the contract will be decided once the contract is signed, although Ecopetrol's budget was US$1.78mn for Torcorama and US$2.7mn for Quebradalarga.

Offers are due this week for 200 sq. km of 3D seismic in Meta department's Pachaquiaro block, with the option of a further 118 sq. km in the adjacent Castilla block.

This is the second time the US$4.8mn contract has been offered. Grant and GAPS bid over the maximum price by more than 10% in a public bidding process, so now Ecopetrol will seek to award the contract through direct negotiations with interested companies, including PGS, Veritas, CGG as well as Grant and GAPS.