(Ecopetrol S.A., 31.Oct.2018) — Ecopetrol S.A. announced the Business Group’s financial results for the third quarter and year-to-date 2018, prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards applicable in Colombia.
The figures included in this report are not audited. Financial information is expressed in billions of Colombian pesos (COP) or US dollars (USD), or thousands of barrels of oil equivalent per day (mboed) or tons, and is so indicated where applicable. For presentation purposes, certain figures in this report were rounded to the nearest decimal place. Further information on the Business Group’s financial figures may be consulted in Ecopetrol’s Consolidated Financial Statements, published on our website.
In words of Felipe Bayón Pardo, CEO of Ecopetrol:
“For the first nine months of the year, Ecopetrol is reporting the best financial results of the past four years. Net income attributable to owners of Ecopetrol rose to 8.9 trillion pesos, EBITDA totaled 23.8 trillion pesos and EBITDA margin was at 48%. These solid financial results were achieved due to the good operating performance of all segments, which brought about an increase in crude oil and gas production, lower crude oil imports for the Downstream segment as well as of refined products to supply the local market. In summary, we were able to capture the profit coming from the higher international oil prices.
The flexibility of the Group’s commercial strategy allowed us to take advantage from the higher demand for crude oil from refiners in Asia to create more value. In the third quarter of 2018, sales to Asia accounted for a 45% share of total crude exports, versus 25% during the same quarter in 2017. Thanks to this initiative, the discount price of the crude basket versus Brent remained at approximately 11%.
In the third quarter of 2018, Ecopetrol Group’s average production totaled 724,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, the highest in the last 10 quarters. Year-to-date average production was 716,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. The increased production for the quarter is in line with the target set for 2018 and it was possible due to the positive results from our drilling campaign and the greater demand for natural gas in the thermal power and industrial sectors. At the end of the quarter, we had drilled 421 development wells and had 41 rigs in operation.
This increase in activity is reflected in larger investments during the quarter, totaling 789 million dollars and representing 80% of what was invested in the first half of the year and more than 50% over the investment in the third quarter of 2017.
In the exploration segment Ecopetrol entered into one of the highest-potential oil basins in the world. The Pau-Brasil block, located in the central region of the Santos basin, in the Brazilian pre-salt, was awarded to the joint venture between BP Energy (50% – Operator), Ecopetrol (20%) and CNOOC Petroleum (30%). This milestone is consistent with our long-term growth strategy and demonstrates Ecopetrol’s ability to develop strategic alliances with leading companies in world-class industry opportunities.
During the third quarter, we drilled five exploratory wells, for a total of nine during the course of the year, and had an exploratory success rate of 44%. These results are in line with the goal of drilling 12 wells in 2018, and materialize our strategy of building a solid base of assets for the company’s future sustainability.
In the Midstream segment, we saw increased volumes of crude oil and refined products transported, primarily due to the optimization of certain systems, such as Galán – Bucaramanga and Coveñas – Cartagena and the beginning of operation of San Fernando-Apiay-Monterrey system along with the expansion of Ocensa P135. Moreover, it is important to highlight the transportation tests carried out at a higher viscosity of 700 centistokes (cSt — a measure of viscosity) with positive operating results, which are now under economic evaluation.
During the third quarter, the oil pipeline network continued to suffer from third-party disruptions, especially on the Caño Limón- Coveñas system; nevertheless, the Bicentenario oil pipeline was able to mitigate those impacts, resulting in five reversion cycles during the quarter. Year to date, 35 reversion cycles have been carried out on the Bicentenario oil pipeline. This flexible operation has prevented deferred production from Caño Limón field.
In the Downstream segment, the two refineries jointly achieved a new historic maximum of 380,000 barrels of stable throughput per day. The third quarter was the best of the year in terms of throughput and gross refining margin for each of our refineries.
In line with the optimization process, the Cartagena refinery continued to generate value by achieving an average throughput of 158,000 barrels per day for the quarter, with a throughput composition of 80% domestic and 20% imported crude. This result contributed significantly to the reduction of the Group’s cost of sales. In August, a record was attained at the refinery by using 100% local crudes during nine days, getting an average throughput of 164,000 barrels per day. Gross refining margin for the quarter was 12.1 dollars per barrel which represents a 17.5% increase vis-à-vis the third quarter of 2017.
Additionally, the Barrancabermeja refinery showed an 11% increase in throughput versus the third quarter of 2017. This outcome was primarily due to the stable operation of its units and the segregation of light and intermediate crudes. The average refining margin for the quarter was 13.9 dollars per barrel, largely impacted by the increase in the prices of the crude basket vs. Brent.
Ecopetrol continues to work on fuel quality. In line with this commitment, we have taken advantage of the greater synergies between the Cartagena and Barrancabermeja refineries, as well as operational adjustments in the transport and logistics systems, to produce cleaner fuels.
In September, diesel distributed in Colombia had an average sulfur content between 15 and 20 parts per million (ppm), below the maximum of 50 ppm of sulfur permitted by local regulation. Specifically, we delivered diesel with an average sulfur content between 12 and 14 ppm to the city of Medellin that complies with international reference markets standards as those in the United States (10 to 15 ppm sulfur content).
Our reducing cost strategy through efficiency measures allowed us to account for 1.8 trillion pesos of higher efficiencies across the Group during the first nine months of 2018, up 26% versus those reported during the same period of 2017. We remain committed with cost efficiency and capital discipline, which are now embedded in our corporate culture.
These accomplishments had enhanced the financial position of the Group. At the end of the third quarter, we increased our cash position from 15 trillion at the end of the second quarter, to 18 trillion pesos, despite the payment of the second installment of dividends to the Government for 1.6 trillion pesos and the prepayments of debt for a total amount of 637 million dollars. This financial strength is essential to support the profitable growth plans of the Group and secure long-term sustainability through crude oil price cycles.
In September, Ecopetrol completed the negotiation of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that will apply for four and a half years and cover aspects such as education, health, food, loans and transport services, among other worker benefits. The New Collective Bargaining Agreement is aligned with the business strategy that seeks to maintain efficiency, capital discipline and collective labor in the new phase of Ecopetrol’s growth. We believe it will contribute positively to the workers wellbeing and the country’s development.
Talking about our ESG initiatives, year-to-date efforts have been focused on activities such as the recycling of 63.3 million cubic meters of water used in our operations. This amount represents an additional saving of 20% compared with the same period last year, enabling us to optimize the water requirement. On another front, we have advanced towards the incorporation of non-conventional renewable energy into the matrix of energy resources, with the announcement of the construction of a solar farm that will supply part of the energy consumption of Castilla field. This is in addition to the existing renewable energy supply from biomass.
Ecopetrol remains committed to generating value, and caring for environment, safe operations, ethics and transparency. Maintaining positive results and growing profitably will remain our focus as we continue to operate as a sustainable company that generates value for its shareholders.”