UPDATE 1-Colombian energy firm Ecopetrol says intends to stay in Peru
LIMA, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Colombia's Ecopetrol plans to continue operating in Peru, although will not going forward to develop four exploratory oil blocks in the neighboring South American country, a spokesman for the state-run energy firm said.
The comments came after a government official said that Ecopetrol was halting its activities in Peru, making it the third energy company to consider withdrawing from the country in recent years.
Ecopetrol spokesman Jorge Tellez said in an email late on Wednesday that the firm intends to keep its stake in oil block 109, for which permits and evaluations are pending.
However, Tellez said the firm did not end up signing contracts for four oil blocks in Peru that it had won the rights to exploit together with Spanish oil firm Repsol in 2010 because of "delays in the formalization process of the blocks."
The head of Peru's state energy agency Luis Ortigas had told reporters earlier on Wednesday that Ecopetrol was "leaving because of problems within the company."
Tellez said Ortigas' comments were likely to be in reference to Ecopetrol's decision not to go forward with the four exploratory oil blocks. He did not specify future plans for the company's other projects in Peru.
"The company has expressed its interest in continuing analyzing new opportunities in tune with its international growth strategy," Tellez said.
Ortigas could not be reached immediately for further comment.