BOGOTA, March 17 (Reuters) - Colombia will examine the best financial and production options for running the nation’s largest oil field after state-owned Ecopetrol declined to extend Canada-based Pacific Rubiales’ contract to operate the field, a government official said on Tuesday.
Ecopetrol will take control of the Campo Rubiales oilfield when the deal with Pacific Rubiales expires in the first half of 2016.
“We are looking at options to ensure that we have the most efficient operation possible, which will be the one which gives more barrels to Colombia and taxes and royalties that allow us to pay for social programs,” Mines and Energy Minister Tomas Gonzalez told reporters.
Ecopetrol has the option of running the field directly or taking bids from other companies, including Pacific Rubiales, he said.
“If there is a proposal that makes sense we’ll analyze it and look at plans,” the minister said. “There are various ways to do remuneration if it is a company other than Ecopetrol.”
Ecopetrol has rights to 60 percent of Campo Rubiales’ production, while Pacific Rubiales controls the remaining 40 percent.
Production at the field, located in southern Meta province, was just above 160,000 barrels per day in January.
The decision by Ecopetrol, 88 percent-owned by the government, came amid a precipitous fall in income for oil exporters across the world, after prices more than halved.
Ecopetrol is the largest company in the Andean country, Latin America’s fourth biggest oil producer, where crude is the largest export and source of foreign exchange.
In July 2014 the company rejected a proposal by Pacific Rubiales to use STAR technology to extract heavy crude more efficiently. (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Richard Chang)