Ecopetrol Group Announces First Quarter 2021 Results
May 04, 2021 at 18:57 PM EDT
BOGOTÁ, May 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Ecopetrol SA (BVC: ECOPETROL; NYSE: EC) announced today the Ecopetrol Group's financial results for the first quarter of 2021, prepared in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards applicable to Colombia.
Table 1: Financial Summary Income Statement - Ecopetrol Group
The figures included in this report were extracted from the Company's unaudited financial statements. The 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, as noted. For presentation purposes, certain figures in this report were rounded to the nearest decimal place.
In words of Felipe Bayón Pardo, CEO of Ecopetrol:
"Ecopetrol's operating and financial results for the first quarter of the year reflect our ability to react to the COVID-19 crisis and overcome it in an effective manner. We have shown resilience and competitiveness in an environment where, despite the signs of recovery, there are still potential risks that require ongoing monitoring.
We have achieved solid results during 1Q21. We even surpassed pre-Covid levels in several indicators. We continued to take important steps on our diversification, decarbonization and climate change mitigation agendas – the aforementioned without losing focus on our strategy as an integrated O&G company. These pillars are key to surpass the challenges that energy transition implies.
We highlight the ongoing process for the potential acquisition of the Ministry of Finance's controlling stake in ISA, which responds to Ecopetrol's strategic interest of entering into new businesses aligned with the opportunities for electrification and decarbonization, dictated by the energy transition, and which in turn leverage the Group's profitable growth. Also, we also remark the announcement of new decarbonization commitments which are aligned with a carbon-neutral future.
The financial results for the quarter reflect an extraordinary recovery. Ecopetrol Group achieved a net income of COP 3.1 trillion and an EBITDA of COP 8.2 trillion in 1Q21 – equivalent to a 48% EBITDA margin. These results almost double those achieved throughout 2020, and were accomplished mainly due to: i) a strengthened realization price of the crude oil export basket at 43% vis-à-vis 1Q20, from 40.3 USD/Bl to 57.8 USD/Bl, supported in better Brent levels, which went from 50.8 USD/Bl on average for 1Q20 to 61.3 USD/Bl for 1Q21; ii) active commercial strategy with our clients in the markets of China, Gulf of Mexico (USA) and Europe; and iii) lower operation costs leveraged by a solid efficiency agenda. This first quarter closed with a solid cash position (COP 8.1 trillion) and a 2.5-times Gross Debt/EBITDA indicator for the last twelve months, in line with our business plan.
Ecopetrol continues to undertake efforts and deploy strategies to achieve a more efficient operation. At the end of 1Q21, the Group realized efficiencies amounting to COP 263.7 billion. This was reflected in a 9% decrease vs. 1Q20 in operating costs and expenses. In turn, the total unit cost was USD $32.6 per barrel, slightly lower when compared to the total unit cost in the same period of 2020. The above is explained by the reduction in costs and expenses and a higher currency exchange rate, partially offset by the increase in the variable factors associated with purchases and imports resulting from a better Brent.
In exploration, Ecopetrol and its partners finished drilling 5 wells during 1Q21. Production from exploration assets increased 39% as compared to 1Q20, mainly due to contributions from Esox-1, Arrecife-1, Andina Norte-1, Boranda-3 and Boranda-2ST. Noteworthy are Ecopetrol-operated Flamencos-2 wells, and El Niño-1 – operated by Perenco in association with Ecopetrol – which were drilled in 2020 and declared successful in 1Q21 upon completion of relevant testing. At the international level, we continue to make progress in the commercial feasibility studies and development plan of Gato do Mato discovery in the Brazilian pre-salt.
Average production in 1Q21 was 675.7 mboed. Our production had an impact when compared to 4Q20 mainly due to operating restrictions in the Castilla field, an increase in Basic Sediment and Water contents in fields such as Chichimene, Akacias, Yariguí, Rubiales, and, in a lesser extent, the withdrawal of volumes related to the divestment of Savia in Peru. Given the effects of the first quarter, we currently estimate a production range between 690 - 700 mboed for the year 2021 and we are implementing a plan that will seek to restore the growth path.
On natural gas and LPG, we had a remarkable 12% increase in the production level, mainly as a result of local demand recovery and the rise in production of Hocol due to the acquisition of Chevron's stake in the Guajira asset. The contribution of gas and LPG was of 23% of the total production, with a 53% EBITDA margin and a 11% contribution to the upstream EBITDA.
Our operations in the Permian basin continue their consolidation process, contributing 6.2 mboed on average as of 1Q21. By the end of the quarter, the Association had 44 wells in production, 20 new wells drilled and 28 wells completed. Expectations for 2021 remain aligned with the 2021-2023 Business Plan.
Regarding Kalé – the Comprehensive Research Pilot Project in Unconventional Reservoirs located in the Municipality of Puerto Wilches (Santander), activities for the environmental impact study began in February. Important progress was attained in the monitoring plan and baselines. Moreover, various dialogue meetings have been held with the communities and consultation spaces have been made available such as the Citizen Participation Office in the territory, seeking to address concerns of the different stakeholders in regard to the scope of the project and its environmental performance.
The downstream segment had a remarkably positive performance across all business units, which was supported by improved price realization of products and a continuous recovery in demand, despite a marginally more expensive feedstock and the execution of scheduled maintenance. The refineries reached a consolidated throughput of 360 mbd in 1Q21, with an integrated gross margin of 10.1 USD/Bl, comparable to pre-pandemic levels. The segment reported an EBITDA of COP 0.65 trillion, equivalent to a 6.7% margin, showing a 97% growth as compared to 1Q20.
The Midstream segment remains a key and a stable cash generator and contributor to EBITDA for the Group. Transport of refined products increased mainly due to the country's recovery in fuel demand and greater evacuation of refined products (mainly diesel and gasoline). Particularly noteworthy is the launch of the marine platform TLU-2 for loading crude oil in the Caribbean by Ocensa in April. This platform is located 12 kilometers offshore from the Coveñas Maritime Terminal. This new infrastructure allowed to almost double the monthly cargo capacity of ships (from 18 to 34), thus transferring heavier crude oils, and incorporating the highest technology to serve 2-million barrel tankers for the next 20 years, in harmony with the environment.
Ecopetrol Group continues to be committed to TESG, mitigating climate change and with moving towards an organized, disciplined, and technology-leveraged transition. In line with the above, on March 25, 2021 we announced our commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (scope 1 and 2). In this regard, Ecopetrol became the first company in the Oil and Gas industry in Latin America to set this ambitious target. Besides, Ecopetrol seeks to reduce its CO2e emissions by 25% as compared to the 2019 baseline for Scopes 1 and 2 by 2030.
These goals are framed as part of Ecopetrol Group's Corporate Strategy, its TESG agenda and the roadmap to promote energy transition, under a detailed decarbonization plan to ensure its competitiveness and resilience, and seeking portfolio diversification towards low emission business alternatives. The 2050 objective has intermediate goals and a short, mid and long-term portfolio, with some projects already implemented or in the research stage.
We highlight the following milestones in this front: i) we achieved a 52% reduction in routine natural gas flaring in our operations between 2017 and 2020; ii) we initiated wind energy potential measurements in areas close to the operations in Cartagena, aiming to assess feasibility of the construction of wind farms that will potentially allow us to partially cover the energy demand of the company's operations in the future; iii) we signed the Pact for New Air for Bogotá, which seeks to improve the quality of fuels and the availability of natural gas for the city; iv) we made progress in preparing the assignment of solar energy projects for 45 MW throughout the country under PPA strategies for self-consumption; v) we adopted and incorporated the standards of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), the Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics of the World Economic Forum (SCM), and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations in the Company's annual reports; and vi) we deployed digital value capture strategies reaching benefits for USD 12 million as of the closing of 1Q21.
We remain committed with our social investment program "Apoyo País", continuing the efforts we began in 2020 by allocating at least COP 60 billion in resources by 2021, in initiatives to strengthen education and public health and territorial economic reactivation. In addition, the company allocated resources for social investment amounting to COP 71 billion during 1Q21, as part of its Environment Strategy framework.
Regarding corporate governance, we would like to highlight three events that took place during the first quarter of the year: i) we held our General Shareholders' Meeting under a 100% virtual format for the second time ensuring our shareholder's rights and active participation; ii) the distribution of a dividend of $17 pesos per share for 2020, equivalent to a dividend payment of 41.41% (COP 0.7 trillion) of the net income of Ecopetrol S.A.; and iii) the appointment of Cecilia María Vélez White as a member of the Board of Directors at Ecopetrol, along with the inclusion of diversity and gender criteria in the Company's bylaws under the principle of meritocracy.
In addition, on January 27, 2021, Ecopetrol submitted a non-binding offer expressing our interest in acquiring the 51.4% of the outstanding shares of ISA, currently owned by the Colombian Ministry of Finance and Public Credit. On February 12, 2021, Ecopetrol and the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit signed an exclusivity agreement, followed by a confidentiality agreement signed between the parties (Ecopetrol, the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit and ISA) on February 26, 2021 to move towards the validation of the interest initially expressed and a potential negotiation. Ecopetrol is currently carrying out the detailed Due Diligence process and negotiating the terms of the Inter-administrative Share Purchase Agreement.
We will maintain our focus on delivering on the 2021-2023 Business Plan during the rest of the year. The Plan seeks to restore our production growth path, increasing competitiveness, laying the foundations of energy transition and going deeper into the TESG agenda as one of the strategic pillars for value creation for our society."
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Ecopetrol is Colombia's largest firm and is an integrated oil company that is among the 50 largest in the world and the four largest in Latin America. In addition to Colombia, where it generates over 60% of the country's production, it is active in exploration and production in the United States (Permian basin and Gulf of Mexico), Brazil and Mexico. Ecopetrol operates the largest refinery in Colombia, most of the country's oil-pipeline and polyduct network and is significantly increasing its share of bio-fuels. This press release contains statements relating to business prospects, estimates of operating and financial results, and Ecopetrol's growth prospects. All are projections, and therefore are based solely on management's expectations of the company's future and its continuous access to capital to finance its sales plan. Achieving these estimates in the future depends on its performance under given market conditions, regulations, competition, the performance of the Colombian economy and industry, and other factors; therefore, they are subject to change without prior notice.
1 Power Purchase Agreements
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SOURCE Ecopetrol S.A.