Modern oil field heralds new era for Ecuador

Oct 23, 2010 12:00 AM

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa inaugurated a modern oil field in the Amazon region that will adhere to strict environmental standards and mark the start of a “new petroleum era” for the Andean nation.The president, who took office in January 2007, said of the first large-scale oil project launched during his tenure that it is a “symbol of the citizens’ revolution” he is leading.

The field -- located in the Amazon province of Sucumbios between the vast natural reserves of Cuyabeno and Yasuni -- is expected to produce some 25,000 bpd over the next three years, although authorities say additional finds could raise its current proven reserves of 42 mm barrels.

The Pañacocha field -- discovered in the 1990s but left untapped due lack of government investment, Correa said during the inauguration -- will be developed by state oil firm Petroamazonas, founded to manage fields formerly run by US-based Occidental Petroleum, whose operating contract was cancelled in 2006.

The effort to develop the field began two years ago with an estimated investment of $ 270 mm, with a loan from the Social Security Institute, or IESS, accounting for $ 165 mm of that total. Production began last year at a rate of 3,000 bpd, but output now climbed to 11,000 bpd, a lead technician at the field told.

Correa, who inaugurated a non-carbon dioxide-emitting crude-pumping station at Pañacocha, said the oil field – the first in Ecuador to employ that environmentally friendly technology – ushers in a “new era” for the nation’s industrial development.

The president also said the field, located in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon, an area inhabited by Cofan, Siona, Kichwa, Huaorani and Shuar Indians, is “a model of social responsibility” because 12 % of its profits will be directly allocated to the local population.

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