January 30, 2013 / 4:21 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Ecuador's Petroamazonas sees oil output up 4 pct in 2013

* Petroamazonas is Ecuador’s largest oil producer

* Manager sees country output rising 4 pct this year

* Says company plans to invest $2.23 billion in 2013 (Adds quote, background, byline)

By Jack Kimball

BOGOTA, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Ecuador’s state-run oil company Petroamazonas expects crude output to increase 4 percent in 2013 to an average of 325,000 barrels per day (bpd), its General Manager Oswaldo Madrid told Reuters on Wednesday.

Petroamazonas is Ecuador’s largest oil company and its output accounts for about 60 percent of the crude produced in the OPEC-member country.

Madrid said in an interview in Bogota that the company will invest $2.23 billion in 2013, up from $1.4 billion in 2012.

“With these (investments) we will carry out exploration and drilling work ... to be able to meet our output target this year,” he said.

Starting on Jan. 1, state-run company Petroecuador transferred control of its fields to Petroamazonas, which is now the state’s upstream company. Petroecuador is the downstream company, and runs three refineries and a key oil pipeline.

“The (output) increase will come mainly from work that Petroamazonas will carry out in the fields that we just received from Petroecuador,” Madrid said.

He said that Ecuador’s average crude output is likely to increase to 524,000 bpd in 2013 and to 540,000 bpd in 2014.

Ecuador is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Copuntries’ smallest member, and in 2011 its average production reached 500,000 bpd, up from 486,000 bpd in 2010.

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.

In November, Ecuador launched a licensing round for 13 oil blocks in Amazon areas near the border with Peru, while Petroamazonas plans to tap three more blocks nearby.

Ecuador’s economy is heavily dependent on oil exports.

Higher crude prices have allowed Correa to increase 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. (Reporting By Jack Kimbal; Writing By Eduardo Garcia; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Maureen Bavdek)

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