La Cortez Energy Provides Operational Update on its Putumayo and Catatumbo Basin Assets

Exploration and development programs initiated in the Putumayo-4 block and Puerto Barco field

Nov 14, 2011, 03:00 ET from La Cortez Energy, Inc.

BOGOTA, Colombia, Nov. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- La Cortez Energy, Inc. (OTC: LCTZ), is pleased to provide the following operational update on the activities being conducted in the Maranta and Putumayo-4 blocks located in the Putumayo Basin and the Puerto Barco field located in the Catatumbo Basin.

Andres Gutierrez, CEO and President of La Cortez commented, "We are very pleased with the results obtained from the Mirto-2 well, and the successful work-over activity conducted on the Mirto-1 well during the third quarter of 2011.  Based on the performance of these wells, we anticipate drilling a third exploration well, Agapanto-1, to further develop the field.  We are currently finalizing the development timeline for 2012 with the operator, but we anticipate that the Agapanto-1 will be drilled at the end of the 2nd quarter of 2012. 

I am also pleased to report that during the month of October we were able to secure the final required consents from the local communities on the Putumayo-4 block, clearing the way for commencement of the seismic acquisition program.  The data from the seismic shoot will allow us to finalize the drilling location for our first exploration well on the block, which we expect to spud during the third quarter of 2012. 

Finally, we have made considerable operational progress in the Puerto Barco field in preparation for the anticipated work-over activity in the Puerto Barco-2 & 3 wells, which is expected to commence in early December, with initial production expected in late December. This work-over activity is a very important milestone that will give Ecopetrol the opportunity to evaluate our ability to successfully implement exploration and development activity in the block beyond 2013."

Maranta Block – Mirto Field

As previously announced, the work-over activity on the Mirto-1 well initiated a long-term production test on the Villeta N sand beginning on August 23rd, 2011. The well was producing at an average rate of 341 bopd gross before royalties (68 bopd net to the company) until October 5th, 2011 when the Electric Submersible Pump (ESP) experienced technical difficulties. On October 26th, a service rig was transported to the site and a well service operation to replace the pump was conducted. This operation was completed on November 1st, and was successful in re-initiating production from the well, which is now producing at a rate of 322 bopd gross (64 bopd net before royalties) with a Base Sediment and Water (BS&W) of 0.71%. Both production and BS&W from the Mirto-1 well are expected to reach the same levels achieved prior to the ESP failure of 340 bopd gross and BS&W 0.40%.

As of November 10th, combined production from the Mirto-1 and Mirto-2 wells is 691 bopd gross before royalties, or 138 bopd net to the company. It is our expectation, that total net production will reach the previously sustained level of 150 bopd achieved prior to ESP failure in the Mirto-1 well.

In conjunction with Emerald Energy Plc., operator of the block, we are in the final stages of developing the final activity plan for 2012.  Given the favorable performance post work-over of both the Mirto-1 and Mirto-2 wells, we intend to drill at least one additional exploration well (Agapanto-1) in the Mirto field during 2012, which will fulfill the minimum exploration commitment in front of the Agencia Nacional de Hidrocarburos Agency (ANH). The Agapanto-1 well will target the same producing sands of the Mirto field, the Villeta formation N, U, and T sands.

Putumayo-4 Block

In conjunction with Petroleos del Norte S.A. (Petronorte), operator of the block, we completed the community consultation process in October for seismic acquisition in the north part of the block, which clears the way for us to initiate seismic acquisition during December 2011. The vendor bidding process is currently underway, where more than 10 seismic service companies were invited to participate in the acquisition of 104.8 km of 2D seismic in the area. This seismic acquisition is part of the mandatory work commitment in front of the ANH. An additional 45-50 km of 2D seismic will also be acquired as part of the additional investment commitment of $1.6 million (gross) made to the ANH during the 2008 bidding round. We expect to finalize the bidding process for seismic acquisition during November and initiate acquisition activities in December. Seismic acquisition and processing should take approximately three months.

Pending initiation of seismic acquisition, we continue the community consultation process to secure consents for drilling of the first exploration well and are finalizing preparation of the Environmental Impact Study (Estudio de Impacto Ambiental – EIA), which is required in order to obtain the exploration well drilling license.  It is expected that we will present the application for the environmental permit during December 2011, and we currently anticipate that the Ministry of Environment will take between 6 to 8 months to process the permit for drilling operations.  We will be prepared to initiate drilling operations promptly upon granting of such permit, which we currently anticipate receiving during the third quarter of 2012.  The initial Putumayo-4 exploration well will also be targeting the Villeta formation N, U, and T sands as well as the Caballos formation. Other companies are currently producing from these sands in fields within close proximity to the Putumayo-4 block.

Puerto Barco Field – Catatumbo Basin

Through its subsidiary Avante Colombia Inc., La Cortez has initiated operating activities in the Puerto Barco Field.  On August 15th, 2011, Phase I road upgrades were initiated from the town of La Gabarra to the Puerto Barco Field / Timbas Station. To date, the work has advanced in this sector, and is expected to be complete in less than 3 weeks. Phase II road upgrades to the critical points along 23 kilometers between the town of Tibu and La Gabarra has not been initiated pending final agreement with the central government, which is expected to be complete in the next two weeks. Completion of the Phase II road upgrades are not necessary for execution of the well service activities on the Puerto Barco-2 and Puerto Barco-3 wells since the well service equipment can be transported to the field by upgrading specific points on the road. Primary activities on the road are required for community assistance as well as for crude oil transport in the near future.

Additional field information has been gathered and field-inspection of the existing Puerto Barco wells has been conducted. It is now planned to conduct well service operations in the Puerto Barco-2 and Puerto Barco-3 wells during early December, with rig mobilization expected to begin shortly thereafter if continued well testing results are favorable.  We have approved the initial Authorization for Expenditure (AFE) for the work-over and related activities (civil work, social work, facilities upgrading and security), which is estimated to cost $1.87 MM net to the company. Initial production is expected in late December, with production rates estimated to reach 100 – 150 bopd gross (50 - 75 bopd net before royalties). Historical production in the Puerto Barco field has yielded high quality, light crude oil exceeding 40 degrees API.

We continue to be actively engaged with Ecopetrol regarding opportunities to amend the existing contract terms, though the final outcome of such discussions remains unknown at this point. The first well intervention in Puerto Barco-2 and Puerto Barco-3 wells is considered to be a strategic milestone that will give Ecopetrol the opportunity to evaluate our ability to successfully implement exploration and development activity in the block beyond 2013, which we believe to be a condition to any determination by Ecopetrol of any amendment to the existing contract terms.

La Cortez Energy Inc., through its subsidiary Avante Colombia Inc. currently has a 50% participation interest in and is the operator of the Rio de Oro and Puerto Barco production contracts with Ecopetrol S.A. in the Department of North Santander in the Catatumbo region of northeastern Colombia, under an operating joint venture with Vetra Exploracion y Produccion Colombia S.A.

About La Cortez Energy, Inc.

La Cortez Energy, Inc. is a development stage oil and gas exploration and production company currently pursuing a business strategy in the energy sector in South America, with an initial focus on identifying oil and gas exploration and production opportunities in Colombia. To that end, the company has established a headquarters office in Bogota, Colombia, and has entered into several joint venture agreements.  These agreements include a 50% working interest in the Putumayo-4 block and for a 20% working interest in the Maranta block, both located in the prolific Putumayo Basin in Southwestern Colombia. The company's current net acreage position in the Putumayo Basin is approximately 67,084 acres (172,080 acres gross).  The assignment of the participation interest in both of the joint ventures is subject to the approval of the Colombian Hydrocarbon Agency - Agencia Nacional de Hidrocarburos (ANH).

In early 2010, La Cortez acquired the 100% interests of Avante Colombia, Inc. in the Rio de Oro and the Puerto Barco fields located in the Catatumbo Basin in Northeastern Colombia. Avante Colombia currently has a 50% participation interest in, and is the operator of, the Rio de Oro and Puerto Barco production contracts with Ecopetrol S.A. Through this acquisition the company's net acreage position in the Catatumbo Basin now totals 5,768 acres (11,535 acres gross). 

Each of the Company's joint venture agreements were signed with experienced, established producers in Colombia, including Sinochem (Emerald Energy PLC – Sucursal Colombia), Petroleos del Norte S.A. a subsidiary of Petrolatina Energy PLC, and Vetra Exploracion y Produccion Colombia, Inc. The company is currently producing from both of its two initial exploration wells in the Maranta Block, and will be targeting a potential exploration portfolio of 40 million barrels of net resource potential in the coming years.

For more information, please contact the Company's Investor Relations department at 941-870-5433 or by email at

Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements in this news release are forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties. Words such as "expects," "intends," "plans," "proposes," "may," "could," "should," "anticipates," "estimates," "likely," "possible," "potential," "believes" and words of similar import also identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based on current facts and analyses and other information and assumptions of management. There can be no assurance that long-term production testing of the Mirto-1 well will be successful or that the Putumayo 4, Maranta and Rio de Oro and Puerto Barco projects will be successfully developed. Actual results may differ materially from those currently anticipated due to a number of factors beyond the reasonable control of the Company, including, but not limited to, the Company's ability to identify other corporate acquisition and/or joint venture opportunities in the energy sector in Colombia, Peru and Brazil and, more generally, in Latin America, and to establish the technical and managerial infrastructure, and to raise the required capital, to take advantage of, and successfully participate in such opportunities, future economic conditions, political stability and energy prices. Additional information on risks and other factors that may affect the business and financial results of the Company can be found in filings of the Company with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

SOURCE La Cortez Energy, Inc.