QUITO Nov 29 Ecuador mustered bids for just
four of 16 oil blocks it offered in its Amazon jungle region
which could potentially contain a total of 1.5 billion barrels
A subsidiary of Spain's Repsol YPF - Repsol Cuba -
and China's Andes Petroleum made offers for three blocks, the
awarding of which will take Ecuadorean authorities five months
to finalize, Minister for Non-Renewable Natural Resources Pedro
Merizalde said late on Thursday.
Ecuadorean state oil producer Petroamazonas, in partnership
with Chile's Enap and Belarus's Belorusneft, will begin the
development of a fourth block.
"In order to incorporate new reserves that will make it
possible to raise the country's production levels, the
Ecuadorean state will guarantee the use of new technologies,
operated by companies committed to national development,"
Merizalde told reporters.
The international auctioning of the blocks had been
announced last year but was twice delayed at the request of the
companies interested in the oil reserves.
The blocks are in the Amazon provinces of Pastaza and Morona
Santiago, near the border with Peru and on the edge of Yasuni
park, one of the world's most important ecological reserves.
In this zone, the Andean nation also hopes to explore the
Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) block, with an estimated 920
million barrels of crude reserves.
Merizalde said that the reserves offered in the first three
blocks were around 380 million barrels but potentially contain
up to 1.5 billion barrels.
The companies in the bidding for the blocks signed a service
delivery contract under a fixed tariff system negotiated with
The government will call for a new auction next year for the
blocks which did not receive any offers, once seismic studies
have been completed.
The exploration work will last up to six years and there
will be a 20-year concession for the pumping of oil, according
to data from the Hydrocarbons Secretariat.
The auction has drawn heavy criticism from indigenous
communities that live immediately around the fields and have
threatened to turn to international organizations to prevent
them from being drilled.
Ecuador, the smallest member of OPEC, produces 520,000
barrels of oil a day on average.