Colombia’s Ecopetrol SA has appointed Felipe Bayón Pardo as president effective September 15, 2017, following the resignation of current President Juan Carlos Echeverry Garzón for family reasons.
Echeverry, 55, formerly served as Colombia’s finance minister. Bogota-based Portofolio newspaper reported that Echeverry is leaving so that he can accompany his wife, also an economist, to Washington, DC, where she will take a top post at the World Bank’s International Finance Corp.
For more than 20 years Pardo worked at BP PLC, where he held senior positions, including senior vice president of BP Americas and director of International Deepwater Response. Bayon remained with BP after it sold its Colombian operations in 2010 for USD1.9 billion to a partnership of Ecopetrol and Talisman of Canada.
Since February 2016, Pardo has led Ecopetrol’s operations as executive vice president. Pardo, 50, graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Los Andes.
After two years of deep cost-cutting designed to reduce losses and conserve cash following the downward spiral in global crude oil prices, Colombia’s state-owned oil company is slowly resuming investments in the upstream sector to boost its proven reserves. At the end of last year, Ecopetrol’s proven reserves were down 14% from 2015 at 1.598 billion barrel. Full-year production in 2016 averaged 718,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil equivalent, down 5.6% from 2015. For 2017, the company is targeting to produce 715,000 bpd.
Ecopetrol said Bayón has received the mandate from Ecopetrol’s board of directors to continue the company’s transformation process and to focus on profitable growth.
Ecopetrol is the largest company in Colombia and is an integrated oil company. In addition to Colombia, where it generates more than 60% of the nation’s crude oil production, it has a presence in exploration and production activities in Brazil, Peru, and the United States in the Gulf of Mexico. Ecopetrol also owns the largest oil refinery in Colombia, most of the country’s pipeline and pipeline network, and is significantly increasing its share of biofuels.
Hired in March 2015 as CEO at a time when global crude oil prices dropped below USD50 per barrel for the first time in 10 years, Echeverry over the next two years slashed more than USD1 billion in annual operating costs. He also had to deal with cost overruns at Ecopetrol’s new 100%-owned Reficar refinery near Cartagena that opened in October 2015 and the ethanol plant in eastern Meta province, which is just now ramping up operations.
Ecopetrol’s board praised Echeverry for his work, “maximising the value of the company to the benefit of stockholders and all Colombians.” Ecopetrol is 88.1% owned by the state, and its dividends are a major source of government revenue.