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Colombian Buyers, U.S. Exporters to Benefit From $1 Billion Ex-Im Bank Preliminary Commitment to Colombia's Ecopetrol

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 18, 2010

Media Contact Name/Phone: 

Phil Cogan (202-565-3200)

Colombian

BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA - The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) today announced approval of a $1 billion preliminary commitment (PC) to help finance the sale of goods and services from various U.S. exporters to Ecopetrol S.A., Colombia's national oil company.

With this preliminary commitment, Ecopetrol (formerly known as Empresa Colombiana de Petroleos S.A.) may request the financing to buy oil field-related equipment and services from U.S. companies large and small. They will use these U.S. products to develop oil and gas reserves, improve existing oil field production and upgrade refineries. The company plans to significantly increase petroleum production to 1 million barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2015.

This preliminary commitment will help Ecopetrol expand its production base, contribute to Colombia's economic growth, and offer enormous opportunities to U.S. exporters to provide goods and services to this important market, Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred P. Hochberg declared at the Palacio de Nariño, or Presidential Palace, during a visit to Colombia to promote trade relations between the two countries. We encourage Ecopetrol to take advantage of this potential financing to buy high-quality U.S. goods, services and technology.

The public announcement was made after Chairman Hochberg met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and other senior Colombian government officials.

The news of the decision of the Ex-Im Bank board to approve a preliminary commitment of US $1 billion is excellent. It will allow Ecopetrol to more easily purchase U.S. products and services to expand its investments in: exploration, production, refinery modernization and clean energy, said Ecopetrol President Javier Gutierrez. For example, the Cartagena and Berrancabermeja refinery modernization projects, valued at over US $6.5 billion, are the largest and most complex industrial projects Colombia has undertaken in many decades. Ecopetrol will be able to process heavy crude and significantly increase its overall production capacity. Furthermore, Ecopetrol is committed to excellent environmental best practices and is actively developing bio-fuels. Ex-Im Bank's support will also enable Ecopetrol to pursue the use of clean technologies in the production of gasoline and diesel fuels and significantly upgrade and streamline production processes.

It is also important to note that Ex-Im Bank's support will have a tremendous, positive impact on Cartagena's and Barracabermeja's industrial and social development, Gutierrez added. There will be major improvements in worker education and new jobs and businesses will be created. Ex-Im Bank's support will permit Ecopetrol to achieve its Strategic Vision that by 2015, the company will produce the equivalent of one million barrels of oil per day. Ecopetrol looks forward to growing this new partnership with the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

Ecopetrol will have the opportunity to request conversion of the PC into final transactions for medium- and long-term loans and guarantees during the next two years as it identifies potential U.S. exporters for its projects. The transactions will be submitted to Ex-Im Bank's board of directors for final approval.

Colombia is the second Latin American country Hochberg has visited since assuming leadership of Ex-Im Bank last May. He is meeting with government, business and financial leaders to build stronger relations with the Colombian market, for the benefit of both our countries.

Ex-Im Bank is the official export-credit agency of the United States. The independent, self-sustaining federal agency helps to create and maintain U.S. jobs by financing the sales of U.S. exports, primarily to emerging markets throughout the world, by providing loan guarantees, export-credit insurance and direct loans.

In fiscal year 2009, Ex-Im Bank set a record, authorizing more than $21 billion in support of U.S. exports to help ease tightened liquidity during the economic crisis. Ex-Im Bank also set a record for financing of small business exports at $4.36 billion in fiscal 2009. More information is available on the Bank's web site at www.exim.gov.