UPDATE 1-Ecuador's Correa set to name new oil, finance ministers

Tue Apr 30, 2013 4:51pm EDT

Related Topics

* Correa won re-election in February with 57 pct of votes

* Ecuador is OPEC's smallest member, produces 500,000 bpd (Adds details and background throughout)

By Alexandra Valencia

QUITO, April 30 (Reuters) - Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa will name a new oil minister and a new finance minister next week, a high-ranking government official told the state-run news agency Andes on Tuesday.

Oil Minister Wilson Pastor will be replaced by Pedro Merizalde, head of the Pacifico refinery project, Correa's legal secretary, Alexis Mera, told the news agency.

Correa will name Fausto Herrera as finance minister, replacing Patricio Rivera, who will be appointed minister for economic policy, Mera said.

Herrera currently serves as deputy finance minister.

Correa was due to make the appointments on Tuesday but his busy schedule forced him to postpone the event until at least next week, Mera said.

Pastor was named oil minister in April 2010. He was in charge of negotiations to force oil companies to sign service contracts in late 2010.

Following the signing of these deals, Ecuador's revenues from the oil sector boomed. The Andean country is OPEC's smallest member and produces around 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

RE-ELECTION VICTORY

Correa, a member of an alliance of leftist Latin American presidents, won re-election in February with about 57 percent of the vote. He later said he planned a Cabinet reshuffle. Correa's inauguration is scheduled for May 24.

In power since 2007, Correa has won broad support with heavy spending on welfare, health, education and infrastructure projects.

But the socialist president has also scared away investors by using anti-capitalist rhetoric, defaulting on $3.2 billion of debt in 2008 and pushing through a new constitution that gave him more power.

Ecuador has not attracted investments in oil exploration since private companies were strong-armed into signing service contracts in 2010. Output has been stuck at 500,000 bpd.

In late February, Correa said that even though Ecuador had struggled to obtain financing, its ambitious $12.5 billion Pacifico oil refinery - a joint venture between state-run PDVSA of Venezuela and Petroecuador - would be up and running on schedule in 2016.

The country also hopes to attract around $1 billion in investments for 16 oil blocks in Amazon regions, even though indigenous groups oppose oil exploration on their lands.

Shortly after his sweeping re-election victory, Correa told Reuters that Ecuador could consider issuing debt for the first time since the default.

Ecuador is also considering launching an exchange offer for holdout creditors, which would improve investor confidence in the country. (Writing by Eduardo Garcia; Editing by Philip Barbara and Stacey Joyce)

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