Ecuador says reaches partial deal with China over crude sales

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador said on Sunday it had reached a partial deal with Chinese oil firms in a negotiation over crude exports, but the Andean country added it would continue to seek more advantageous conditions in talks over the next few days.

During recent meetings with PetroChina 601857.SS and Unipec Asia, the sides reached an agreement over the price formula for crude as well as transport costs, the Hydrocarbons Ministry said in a statement.

“These changes were made within the contractual framework that Ecuador maintains with these companies,” the ministry said, adding negotiations would continue over other aspects of the deals in the next few days.

The ministry did not provide financial details about the new deals.

OPEC member Ecuador has shipped around half of its oil to Chinese firms after a rash of oil-for-loans deals signed under former President Rafael Correa, who touted the deals as a triumph of trade between close allies.

But critics have long said the cash-strapped government’s dependence on loans with increasingly onerous terms has hurt Petroecuador’s competitiveness, damaged transparency in an oil industry that accounts for half of Ecuador’s exports and distanced the country from other creditors.

Under President Lenin Moreno who has broken with his former mentor Correa, Ecuador has been seeking to change the formula that calculates sales prices in what the government has said were inadequate contracts.

Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Cynthia Osterman