Colombia’s majority state-owned energy company Ecopetrol and US oil major Occidental have agreed to jointly explore four offshore, deep-water blocks in the Colombian Caribbean.

The exploration agreement allows the two firms to explore for potential hydrocarbon resources in blocks COL 1, COL 2, COL 6, and COL 7, located in deep waters in the northeast of the Colombian Caribbean.

The deep-waters blocks are located approximately 150km from the coastline of Atlántico, Magdalena, and La Guajira.

Ecopetrol will own a 40% stake in the exploration and production rights of the blocks while Anadarko Colombia, a subsidiary of Occidental, will hold the remaining 60% interest.

Anadarko Colombia will serve as the operator of the offshore blocks.

The new alliance complies with Ecopetrol’s long-term strategy to strengthen its offshore exploration.

Subject to regulatory permits and the completion of technical studies, the two companies will explore the areas in the blocks by acquiring seabed samples and drilling an exploratory well.

In a press statement, Ecopetrol said: “This well represents an important technological challenge with which the companies are committed, since it would be done in deep water.”

The agreement, however, is subject to Colombia’s oil regulator National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) approval.

Ecopetrol president Felipe Bayón said: “We are very pleased to seal this new alliance with Oxy, a first-rate partner, to continue strengthening the exploration portfolio in the Colombian Caribbean in line with our 2040 strategy ‘Energy that transforms’, one of whose promoters seeks to maintain competitiveness in the hydrocarbon chain by increasing offshore exploration.”