Ecopetrol Gets Approval for Contingent Credit Line for $665 Million

(Ecopetrol S.A., 10.Sep.2018) — Ecopetrol S.A. announced that as part of its integral debt management strategy, it will sign a contingent line of credit for $665 million with Scotiabank ($430 million) and Mizuho Bank ($235 million).

Under this type of facility, known as a committed line of credit, Scotiabank and Mizuho Bank agree to disburse funds as and when Ecopetrol requires them, under terms and conditions previously agreed between the parties. This facility would increase the Company’s indebtedness only when the disbursements are made.

The contingent line will have a two (2) year availability period for disbursements, subject to the following conditions: (i) principal amortizable upon maturity after a five-year term as from the signing date of the agreement, and (ii) an interest rate of 6-month LIBOR + 125 basis points and an annual fee of 30 basis points on principal not disbursed during the availability period.

Resources to be deployed under this contingent line may be used for general corporate purposes, among them to strengthen Ecopetrol’s liquidity position in the face of eventual growth opportunities, to mitigate risks associated to unexpected fluctuations in crude prices, as well as to reduce refinancing specific needs in the coming years, with flexibility and low financing costs.

To obtain the committed line of credit, the Company complied with all required internal and external procedures and approvals, including the corresponding Authorization Resolution by the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit

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The conditions obtained confirm the local international financial sector’s confidence in the Company.

** This administrative act can be subject to clarifications or changes, ex officio or at request of a party, in accordance with the legal mechanism that are applicable to the effect.

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Excelerate Energy, TGS Sign Deal to Study Liquefaction Project in Bahía Blanca

(Excelerate Energy L.P., 10.Sep.2018) — Excelerate Energy L.P. and Transportadora de Gas del Sur S.A. announced the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly collaborate on the assessment of a liquefaction project in the city of Bahía Blanca, Argentina. Argentina currently imports liquefied natural gas (LNG) through two floating import terminals, particularly during the country’s peak winter consumption. The successful development of Argentina’s shale gas reserves resulted in a potential excess of natural gas during the summer months. The project aims at studying the technical and commercial viability of liquefying and exporting natural gas during the summer season, allowing a more sustainable development of shale gas resources and reducing Argentina’s annual natural gas net import needs. The study is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, at which time Excelerate and TGS will share the results with government and industry officials and decide on further actions towards the implementation of the Project.

“Given the high seasonality of Argentina’s natural gas consumption, LNG has played a critical role in meeting the country’s energy demands,” stated Excelerate’s Chief Commercial Officer Daniel Bustos. “This Project will significantly enhance Argentina’s capacity to maximize the use of local resources by allowing a more predictable development of shale gas production while reducing the overall costs of importing LNG.”

TGS is carrying out an important midstream project aimed at the transportation and conditioning of the natural gas production derived from the Vaca Muerta Basin, located in the province of Neuquén, Argentina. This Project represents an essential contribution to the development of shale gas reserves, promoted by the National and Provincial Governments, as it will ensure the infrastructure required to inject incremental gas production to the main transportation systems.

“Carrying out LNG production through the Project will be key to promote the development of unconventional gas, since it will allow to expand the scale of the gas market, increasing export opportunities, after having met domestic market needs in Argentina,” stated TGS’ Chief Commercial Officer Néstor Martín.

Both Excelerate and TGS have been critical players in the growth of the Argentine energy industry. Currently, one hundred percent of LNG imported and regasified into the country is through Excelerate’s two floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs). Excelerate developed South America’s first LNG import terminal in 2008 in Bahía Blanca, following with the second terminal in 2011 in Escobar, Argentina. TGS is the leading natural gas transportation company in Argentina and owns and operates South America’s largest pipeline network. The project underscores both party’s commitment to seeing Argentina’s energy sector become more sustainable for the long term.

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International Tribunal Rules for Chevron in Ongoing Ecuador Case

(OGJ, Nick Snow, 10.Sep.2018) — An international tribunal administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague found that a $9.5-billion judgment that Ecuador’s government lodged against Chevron Corp. in 2011 violated international treaties, investment agreements, and international law.

Ecuador breached its obligations under a 1995 settlement agreement that released Chevron subsidiary Texaco Petroleum Co. (TexPet) and its affiliates from the same public environmental claims on which the $9.5-billion Ecuadorian judgment was exclusively based, the Sept. 9 decision said.

In a ruling nearly 5 years earlier, the same tribunal said agreements Ecuador’s government signed in 1995 and 1998 released TexPet from environmental liability for land on which it once produced oil (OGJ Online, Sept. 18, 2013). That ruling upheld an important claim Chevron made in its years-long defense against a lawsuit claiming billions of dollars for environmental damage.

In its latest decision, the tribunal found that TexPet “spent approximately $40 million in environmental remediation and community development under the 1995 settlement agreement” carried out by a “well-known engineering firm specializing in environmental remediation” and that Ecuador in 1998 executed a final release agreement “certifying that TexPet had performed all of its obligations under the 1995 settlement agreement.”

The tribunal found “no cogent evidence” supporting Ecuador’s claim that TexPet failed to comply with the terms of the remediation plan approved by the government. To the contrary, the award recites sworn testimony of Ecuadorian officials that TexPet’s “technical work and environmental work was done well,” while Ecuador’s national oil company “during more than 3 decades, had done absolutely nothing” to address its own environmental remediation obligations in the area, even though Ecuador and its national oil company received 97.3% of the project’s oil production revenues.

“An esteemed international tribunal, including an arbitrator appointed by Ecuador, has unanimously confirmed that, following completion of an agreed environmental remediation program, Chevron was released by the Republic of Ecuador from the environmental claims that the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment purports to address,” R. Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice-president and general counsel, said on Sept. 9.

“Following years of litigation, including visits to the former area of operations by the tribunal, the tribunal found that Ecuador violated the final release agreement that had certified the successful completion of TexPet’s remediation,” he said.

The tribunal also reached the same conclusion as US courts regarding the issue of judicial fraud, Pate said. “The tribunal found extensive evidence of fraud and corruption by members of the Ecuadorian judiciary acting in collusion with American and Ecuadorian lawyers,” he said.

“This award is consistent with rulings by courts in the US, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and Gibraltar confirming that the Ecuadorian judgment is unenforceable in any country that respects the rule of law,” Pate said. “Indeed, the tribunal explicitly found that it would be contrary to international law for the courts of any other [nation] to recognize or enforce the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment.”

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Peru-Petro President Says Proposed Hydrocarbon Law “Favorable”

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 10.Sep.2018) — The proposed Law for the Promotion of the Hydrocarbons Industry, which will be debated shortly by Congress, is “favorable” for the country’s oil sector, announced Peru-Petro President Seferino Yesquén.

The official, speaking during an interview with Andina, said the law is “favorable” because it will “modernizes the sector and allow for faster investments.”

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