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UPDATE 1-Colombia's Ecopetrol Q1 net profit soars on better oil prices, weak comparative

(Adds more information on results, CEO comment)

BOGOTA, May 4 (Reuters) - Colombia’s majority state-owned oil company Ecopetrol on Tuesday reported a soaring first-quarter net profit of 3.09 trillion pesos ($806.5 million) for this year, buoyed by improved oil prices and with the backdrop of a dismal comparative period in 2020.

The oil company reported a net profit of 133 billion pesos in the first quarter of 2020, following a global slump in oil prices and after booking an impairment worth 1.21 trillion pesos.

Ecopetrol’s first-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 55.7% to 8.19 trillion pesos, the company said.

“These financial results reflect an extraordinary recovery,” Ecopetrol Chief Executive Felipe Bayon said in a statement to the country’s financial regulator, citing improved oil prices and lower operating costs than in the year-earlier period.

Before impairments, Ecopetrol’s first-quarter net profit for 2021 rose to 3.08 trillion pesos, from 1.06 trillion pesos in the first three months of last year.

Ecopetrol’s results follow those of Mexico’s Petroleos Mexicanos - known as Pemex - which last week reported its first-quarter net loss narrowed by 93% following higher sales, lower imports and tax cuts.

Ecopetrol’s first-quarter sales rose 14.2% to 17.21 trillion pesos, the company added.

Production in the first quarter of the year fell to 675,700 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed), down from 735,100 barrels in the first quarter of 2020, Ecopetrol said, due to restrictions on operations.

Due to the lower production in the first quarter, the company said it expects full-year production of between 690,000 and 700,000 boed in 2021.

$1 = 3,831.35 Colombian pesos Reporting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Leslie Adler and Lisa Shumaker

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