Having emerged relatively unscathed from the 2014-15 price crash, Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol is once again turning its focus to ramping up exploration and production.

After tumbling from more than US$110/b in June 2014 to US$28/b in January last year, benchmark Brent crude futures have edged passed US$50, the point at which Ecopetrol says its operations are profitable.

"We have overcome the crisis and we've dedicated ourselves to something more important, which is growth," Ecopetrol CEO Juan Carlos Echeverry said in an interview with Colombian news magazine Semana.

"Today we're dedicated to growing, in both our reserves and in production."

The comments came just days after Ecopetrol reported second quarter net income of 1.3tn pesos (US$439mn), up from 787bn pesos in the year-ago period. The company said it benefited from higher crude sales revenue and, crucially, lower operating costs.

According to Echeverry, Ecopetrol is one of only five oil and gas companies in the world to have reported a profit in each of the past six quarters.

"Oil at US$28/b was the best thing that could have happened to Ecopetrol and other oil companies around the world," said the CEO, a former finance minister who assumed the NOC's top position in April 2015.

"It put our feet on the ground. The industry was floating on a cloud with rising expenses and investments. That brought us back to earth. Since then we've renegotiated contracts and have been able to save. The response has been very positive."


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