QUITO Jan 11 Ecuador's oil output increased 0.8
percent last year to an average of 504,000 barrels of crude per
day (bpd), less than the 510,000-bpd target set by the
government, the energy ministry said on Friday.
Ecuador is OPEC's smallest member, and in 2011 its average
production reached 500,000 bpd, up from 486,000 bpd in 2010.
Ecuador's energy minister, Wilson Pastor, said in July the
country aimed to increase average oil production to 530,000 bpd
in 2013, up from a target of 510,000 bpd in 2012.
After taking office in 2007, Ecuador's leftist president,
Rafael Correa, introduced reforms to increase state revenue from
the oil industry, and since then foreign oil companies have not
invested in new projects.
State-run energy companies Petroamazonas and Petroecuador
invested $1.34 billion last year, while foreign oil companies
invested $330 million, the ministry said in a statement.
Spain's Repsol SA and Chinese-owned Andes Petroleum
both have operations in Ecuador, but the biggest producers are
the country's state-run companies, whose output accounts for
about 70 percent of total production.
Ecuador's economy is heavily dependent on oil exports.
Higher crude prices have allowed Correa to hike social spending
in recent years, which in turn has boosted his popularity among
the country's poor majority ahead of a presidential election
scheduled for February.