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Colombia's Ecopetrol sets oil export record

BOGOTA, May 10 (Reuters) - Colombia's Ecopetrol set a record for oil and refined product exports for April, reaching 403,510 barrels per day, or the equivalent of $906 million, the highest value since July 1999, the company said on Monday. Ecopetrol's oil and derivatives volume compared with 254,500 bpd, or $338.9 million, in the same month a year earlier. Exports were led by sales from the country's Castilla oil field in Meta province, which produced 269,230 bpd in April, the company said. "Sales abroad were mainly boosted by Castilla crude oil," the company said in a statement. Colombia, Latin America's No. 4 oil producer, has seen a "miniboom" in energy investment as Ecopetrol and other companies have stepped up exploration after improvements in security under President Alvaro Uribe. Uribe remains popular for making many areas of the country safer with his U.S.-backed crackdown on leftist rebels. The conservative leader steps down this year after two terms, with elections set for May 30. Colombia has certified about 3.1 billion barrels in oil reserves, including proven, probable and possible reserves, double the country's average over recent years, due to a surge in foreign investment. Fuel oil sales boosted Ecopetrol exports with 55,570 bpd in April, while South Blend crude oil, a blend of crude oils from the country's south, ranked No. 3 in exports at 44,900 bpd, due to higher production in the Putumayo region on the border with Ecuador. Ecopetrol's main export destination was the U.S. Gulf Coast, with 58 percent of total volume, followed by Asia, with 24 percent of total exports. The company's export price basket reached $75 per barrel in April, the highest since September 2008. (Reporting by Javier Mozzo Pena; Writing by Luis Andres Henao; Editing by Walter Bagley) Keywords: COLOMBIA OIL/ECOPETROL (luis.a.henao@thomsonreuters.com; +57-1-634-4133; Reuters Messaging: luis.a.henao.reuters.com@reuters.net) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.

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