Located in the central part of the Santos basin, the Saturno block was awarded to Shell Brasil Petróleo and Chevron Brasil Óleo & Gás, the respective Brazilian subsidiaries of Shell and Chevron, in October 2018.

Shell had then revealed its share of pay for the rights to be about BRL$1.562bn ($410m).

The Brazilian government awarded the consortium of Shell and Chevron a 35-year production sharing contract during the country’s fifth pre-salt oil auction held by the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP). The consortium had then executed a proposal with a production stake of 70.2% in favor of the Brazilian State.

Following the transaction with Ecopetrol, Shell and Chevron have reduced their stakes in the Saturno block from 50% to 45% each.

Spread over 1,100km2, the Saturno block is located off the coast of São Paulo and Río de Janeiro states.

Ecopetrol, in a statement, said: “Ecopetrol’s stake in this new block is in addition to the one it won in another block in the Santos basin of Brazil’s Pre-Salt Region, together with two other companies. Ecopetrol holds 20% of the Pau-Brasil exploratory block, while the Chinese company CNOOC holds 30% and the operator BP holds 50%.”

Currently, the Colombian oil and gas company is taking part in five Brazilian blocks located in the Santos, Foz de Amazonas, Ceará and Potiguar basins.

Last month, Ecopetrol said that its board of directors approved the company’s plans to invest $3.5-$4bn in 2019, out of which more than 80% will be allocated for its upstream activities. The company plans to spend 90% of its upstream investments in Colombia.

Ecopetrol is targeting a production of 720,000-730,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (oil and gas) and the addition of proven reserves equivalent to 100% of oil and gas production in 2019.

In July 2018, the Colombian oil and gas company reported oil discovery following the drilling of the Búfalo-1 well in the Valle Medio del Magdalena region located near Guaduas in Cundinamarca Department, Colombia.