Colombia's Ecopetrol commits to stop routine gas flaring at operations

BOGOTA, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Colombia's state-owned oil company Ecopetrol said on Thursday it has signed up to a World Bank-led global initiative to stop routine gas flaring at its operations.

Flares at oil fields pump hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, according to the World Bank. The multilateral lender's initiative aims to stop routine flaring by 2030 as part of a push to fight climate change.

Globally, Ecopetrol follows 38 other oil and gas companies and 32 governments in joining the initiative, which was launched by the World Bank in 2015, according to the lender's website.

Within Latin America, the plan is supported by the governments of Ecuador, Mexico and Peru. Petrobras and Petroamazonas EP, the state-owned oil companies of Brazil and Ecuador, respectively, also support the strategy.

"We are committed to being leaders in the reduction of greenhouse gases in Colombia and increasing the energy we generate with renewable sources," Ecopetrol Chief Executive Officer Felipe Bayon said.

Signing up to the initiative is part of Ecopetrol's commitment to cut its emissions by 20% by 2030, a plan it announced in 2019. The company will commit to not burning gas flares at new oil fields and will stop routine flaring in existing fields as soon as possible.

It will also report the annual volume of gas it burns to the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership, which supports efforts to reduce gas flaring. (Reporting by Oliver Griffin Editing by Paul Simao)