Brazil's Petrobras to keep stake in Colombia's deepwater block Tayrona

(Reuters) - Brazil's state-controlled oil company Petrobras has abandoned a plan to sell its 44% stake in a promising offshore gas project it shares with Colombia's Ecopetrol and now aims to rapidly develop the field, a Petrobras executive said at a Houston energy conference.

Petrobras and Ecopetrol last year announced a natural gas discovery at the Uchuva-1 deepwater well in the Tayrona block, 32 kilometers off Colombia's coast. The Brazilian company two years earlier had offered its stake for sale following poor exploration results at a previous well, Orca-1.

The Tayrona block will be developed "as fast as possible because Colombia needs that gas," Petrobras Exploration and Production Executive Director Joelson Mendes said on Tuesday at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. "We have created the structure in the country for that."

Petrobras operates the Tayrona block, which is expected to deliver Colombia's first gas production from deep waters fields in 2026 by connecting to nearby infrastructure, according to Ecopetrol's projections.

"Not anymore," said Carlos Travassos, Petrobras' chief production development officer, when asked about plans to sell the company's stake in Tayrona. "We have seen the relevance of this," he said on the conference sidelines.

Colombia wants to speed up discovery and development of its offshore gas reserves to avoid the need for imports and boost industries from power to petrochemicals. Neighboring Venezuela has offered to export gas but top executives at Ecopetrol and other producers have said that the country must prioritize developing its own resources.

As much as 4 tcf of natural gas reserves could be confirmed in Tayrona, the executive said, which makes it a very promising project along with the Gorgon ultra deepwater gas field by Ecopetrol and Shell and another deepwater venture by Occidental Petroleum and Ecopetrol to begin drilling in 2025.

A new drilling campaign is planned for 2024 by Tayrona's stakeholders to progress toward that goal.

Petrobras is analyzing information it gathered from the latest drilling campaign. "Depending on that analysis, maybe we can speed up (the next drilling campaign). We are having a very good experience," Travassos said.

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