Petroecuador lifts force majeure on two oil blocks

Infrastructure of Ecuador's state-run oil company Petroecuador is pictured outside of Nueva Loja
An infrastructure of Ecuador's state-run oil company Petroecuador is pictured outside of Nueva Loja, Ecuador May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Santiago Arcos

QUITO, March 29 (Reuters) - Ecuador's state-owned oil company Petroecuador on Wednesday lifted a declaration of force majeure on two of its oil blocks, allowing them to return to normal operations amid negotiations with nearby communities, it said.

Petroecuador declared force majeure on four blocks in Ecuador's Orellana province this month due to protests from nearby Indigenous communities, who allege the company has not fulfilled its promises of economic assistance.

Petroecuador "has lifted force majeure ... for operations in the Yulebra Field, Block 61 and the Ishpingo, Tiputini, Tambococha ITT Fields, Block 43, in Orellana province," it said in a statement.

Force majeure remains in place in blocks 12 and 16, it said.

The company did not say if it had reached any agreements with the local communities regarding the operation of blocks 61 and 43 before lifting the force majeure.

"At the moment, the state oil company is working to recover production from these fields and has notified the companies with which it maintains contractual ties for the provision of services," Petroecuador said.

Energy Minister Fernando Santos had said on March 21 the force majeure declaration would mean the country would have to cut its targeted oil production for the year by around 8%.

Ecuador originally sought to produce an average of 520,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) this year, but the reduction could see output fall to around 480,000 to 490,000 bpd, Santos said.

As of Tuesday, production was around 461,000 bpd, according to official data.

Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Tom Hogue

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