Colombia’s Ecopetrol and Norway’s StatoilHydro ASA agreed to jointly drill three exploratory wells over the next two years in the deep waters of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GOM).

The farm-in agreement would give Ecopetrol, Colombia’s largest company, a 20-30% stake in the prospects. Ecopetrol already operates in the GOM as a joint partner on the deepwater K2 Unit with Royal Dutch Shell plc, ENI, BP plc and Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

Anadarko operates the K2 Unit, and last year it sold part of its stake to undisclosed parties for $1.2 billion (see Daily GPI, March 13, 2007). Daily production from the K2 Unit in 2007 averaged 37,100 boe/d from six wells, according to Anadarko.

Ecopetrol and StatoilHydro did not detail where the exploration wells would be drilled. However, StatoilHydro has a big presence in the U.S. deepwater.

Earlier this year the Norwegian producer expanded its stake in one of the largest GOM discoveries, Kaskida, which is located on Keathley Canyon Block 292 in the Lower Tertiary formation (see Daily GPI, March 5; Sept. 6, 2006).

StatoilHydro, considered a leader in deepwater technology, has stakes in 415 blocks in the GOM, and it operates 195 of them. Earlier this year it also agreed to purchase one billion cubic meters a year of liquefied natural gas from 2009 to 2014 from the Cove Point receiving terminal (see Daily GPI, March 4).

Ecopetrol’s initial investment with StatoilHydro could exceed $160 million, the companies said. In addition, the two producers agreed to undertake a process for “maturing” several projects in the GOM over the next seven years.

©Copyright 2008Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.