Ecopetrol’s New President Advocates for More Oil Exploration in Opposition of Petro’s Goals
On an earnings call this month, new Ecopetrol (NYSE: EC) president Ricardo Roa criticized the Colombian government’s pledge to ban oil and gas explorations in the country, expressing his belief in the necessity of the oil industry to continue Colombia’s growth and progress.
With these recent comments, Roa, who has been a public supporter and ally of President Gustavo Petro, has become yet another high-profile official questioning the oil and gas exploration ban that Petro began advocating in his campaign before the 2022 election.
“We have not said that we will not sign new search and exploration contracts,” said Roa on the call. “Hopefully there will be more, and hopefully there will continue to be a debate on this topic because exploration is what gives long-term stability as an oil company. To increase its reserves, it is necessary to have areas to explore and search for oil and gas.”
Along with moving away from oil and gas explorations in the country, Petro has stressed for a pivot towards tourism and clean energy, a plan which has been opposed by members of the country’s oil and gas industry and other pro-business sectors who believe it the revenue shortfall it would create could not be made up quickly enough to support the nation’s strategic objectives and commitments.
The ban on new exploration was also opposed by Roa’s predecessor at Ecopetrol, Felipe Bayon, who has pushed for a gradualist approach to transitioning Colombia towards clean energy in opposition to Petro’s zero consumption goals. “It’s going to take a lot of time, effort, and money to ensure that other industries take its place,” Bayon said previously on public comments.
Roa was appointed as president after Bayon resigned in January and took charge during a first quarter that saw year-over-year net profits fall by 14%.
“My priorities will be focused on maintaining value generation as we move towards an energy transition and sustainability in all our operations,” said Roa, while acknowledging the need for future oil explorations to keep the company’s medium-term growth stable while still staying committed to finding the balance between economic and environmental sustainability.
Since taking the position in April, Roa has also been looking into potentially using new technology, such as artificial intelligence, as a way of improving outputs and exploration rate success for the company up to an ambitious production rate goal of one million barrels of oil equivalent per day.