UPDATE 1-Repsol plans talks with Ecuador to save contract

Mon Nov 3, 2008 9:27am EST

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(Adds Ecuador president's comments in paragraphs 4 to 6)

MADRID Nov 3 (Reuters) - Spain's largest oil group, Repsol (REP.MC),is sending its head of upstream activities, Nemesio Fernandez Cuesta, to Ecuador for talks in an attempt to save its operations in the country, a spokesman said on Monday.

"He is going this week and it is still planned for him to talk to the Ecuadorean government," the spokesman said.

Ecuador said late on Friday it had decided to terminate a production contract with Repsol after a disagreement over new terms for oil extraction.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said during the weekend it was too late for Repsol to save its contract with the OPEC nation and its fields would be offered to "all those companies that are eager to invest in the country."

"They (Repsol) are trying to get in touch with me to talk, but it's too late," Correa said during his weekly media address on Saturday. "These transnational companies have to understand that the banana republic is over."

However, Correa said his oil minister could meet with the company.

The termination marked the leftist president's toughest move yet in a key industry over which he has vowed to tighten his control.

In the past he has threatened to end deals with foreign companies as part of a negotiation strategy to secure better terms for the state.

Correa, widely popular for pledges to better distribute his country's wealth among the poor, wants oil companies to switch to new service contracts that guarantee more oil revenue for the state.

Repsol, one of the Andean country's largest investors, extracts around 65,000 barrels of oil per day in Ecuador, though its work there represents a small part of its global operations. (Reporting by Jonathan Gleave; Additional reporting by Alonso Soto in Quito; Editing by Walter Bagley)

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