Ecopetrol CEO to Step Down Amid Petro’s New Exploration Halt


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(Bloomberg) — Ecopetrol’s Felipe Bayon will step down as CEO at the end of March, a move likely to increase investor concern over the government’s aversion toward fossil fuels.

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Bayon, who has been in the role since 2017, is leaving his post amid President Gustavo Petro’s push to transition the country away from fossil fuels. His new administration has reiterated its decision to halt new oil and gas exploration contracts, while only allowing existing deals to continue. 

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“Considering the quality of the management team and Ecopetrol’s high governance standards over the past few years, the exit of Felipe Bayon will likely be frowned upon by investors,” Daniel Guardiola, an economist at BTG Pactual said. “Investor’s concern on government interference will likely increase,” although the move was widely expected.

A spokesman for Ecopetrol declined to comment on the reasons behind Bayon’s departure.

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The move was disclosed in a filing made after the close of trading Thursday in Bogota, with the company’s shares finishing 1.1% higher on the day. Since early April 2022, they are down more than 25%. 

Colombia’s Energy and Mines Minister Irene Velez said in a panel in Davos earlier this month that the administration’s plan was to “leave behind coal and hydrocarbons while surviving as a nation.” Her remarks were at odds with comments by others in Petro’s administration, such as Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo, who’s said Colombia is open to the possibility of new contracts given its high fiscal revenue dependence on fossil fuels.

Velez came under fire earlier this week when the ministry was questioned over data stating the nation’s gas resources were sufficient to meet domestic demand until at least 2037. Velez said she stood by the data, which included proven and probable reserves.

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