QUITO – Ecuador’s non-renewable natural resources minister announced an oil-production target of between 470,000 and 480,000 barrels per day this year.
“We expect to maintain the pace of output we have right now: between 470,000 and 480,000 barrels per day,” Germanico Pinto said Thursday, noting that private companies account for 40 percent of the total.
The idea is for “the private portion not to drop any further,” he said, adding that service-contract negotiations are underway with private companies that are still operating under production-sharing arrangements.
“This is very important because it will change the way we’ve managed the hydrocarbon issue in Ecuador. We’ve now cast aside that vision where they simply come in, take our oil and leave us a very small portion,” Pinto told CN3 television.
According to the minister, the government’s position in the contract negotiations is clear: “the oil belongs to Ecuadorians” and the companies’ role is to extract it and receive a fee for their services.
The minister said the talks will not represent a “serious obstacle” to production, going on to say that “all the companies are seated at the negotiating table” and the process is moving forward “with a great deal of responsibility and seriousness.”
He expressed hope that the first service contracts with the private oil companies will be signed “by the end of March.”
Oil is Ecuador’s leading export product and the country depends on revenue from foreign crude sales to fund about 25 percent of public spending.
State-owned Petroecuador accounts for about 60 percent of the nation’s total oil output and about a dozen private companies the rest. EFE