Exclusive-Colombia mulls making Ecopetrol mandatory partner in offshore wind farms

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The logo of Ecopetrol is pictured at its headquarters in Bogota

The logo of Ecopetrol is pictured at its headquarters in Bogota, Colombia July 11, 2023. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

BOGOTA, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Colombia's government is considering revising rules to make majority state-run energy company Ecopetrol (ECO.CN) an obligatory partner in every offshore wind project, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy will consult businesses interested in taking part in Colombia's first-ever offshore wind auction about the proposal, one of the sources said in recent days, adding that feedback so far has been positive.

If approved, the revision would make it "mandatory for Ecopetrol to take part in each offshore project," another source told Reuters.

The government of President Gustavo Petro, Colombia's first leftist leader, has set its sights on weaning the Andean country from its dependence on fossil fuels while ensuring energy self sufficiency.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy did not respond to questions from Reuters.

Having Ecopetrol partner up with other companies on offshore wind farms would "minimize the risks of new projects" one of the sources said, adding that the size of any given Ecopetrol stake would be "very, very small," without hinting at possible percentages.

Ecopetrol's involvement in offshore wind projects would help shore up energy self sufficiency, another of the sources said.

"For energy security, it's the most important (thing)," another said, referring to Ecopetrol's involvement on the projects.

Plans to hold the bidding round to assign maritime blocks for offshore wind farms are running behind.

The ministry last week said it continues to work on readying the necessary tender documents, despite previously saying the paperwork would be published in August.

Processes to change the regulations - which were published in the last week of the previous government - are behind the delays, one of the people said, while another added setbacks were due to changes in the ministry's leadership.

Former Minister of Mines and Energy Irene Velez stood down in July amid investigations into the possible crime of influence peddling, and was replaced by Andres Camacho at the start of August.

"I think it will be difficult for (the auction) to go ahead this year," one of the sources said.

Reporting by Oliver Griffin; editing by Timothy Gardner

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Oliver reports on energy and the environment as well as general news from Bogotá in Colombia. He has a special interest in reporting on Colombia's rampant oil crime, where hydrocarbon theft fueled by the drug trade leads to widespread pollution. He previously worked at Dow Jones Newswires in Barcelona where he covered oil and mining. Contact: +573045838931

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