Ecuador to Call for ITT Bids March-April

Ecuador's energy ministry will probably call for bids on the US$2.5bn-3bn ITT (Ishpingo-Tambochocha-Tiputini) oil fields in the north of the country by March-April this year, an energy and mines ministry spokesperson told BNamericas.

The Tiputini area in Ecuador's Yasuni national park in Napo province covers about 200,000ha with reserves of some two billion barrels of 14-16 degrees API crude, about a quarter of Ecuador's total reserves. Because of the low grade crude, Petroecuador would require the winning bidder to build a refinery to upgrade the crude, most of which would be for export.

The concessionaire would build a 20km pipeline from the refinery to transport the crude to Argentine company Petrobras Energia's neighboring Block 31, from where it would eventually link in with the Sote pipeline for shipment to the coast and export. The energy ministry has proposed an association contract structure, but the final contract structure will not be decided until technical studies that state oil company Petroecuador is carrying out are completed, the spokesperson said.

Government officials, private oil companies and academics will discuss contract alternatives at a January 7 meeting. "The idea is to inform the public and for experts to offer their suggestions, recommendations and criticism if necessary," the spokesperson said. Energy minister Carlos Arboleda will speak about the importance of the project and then the discussion will focus on technical and regulatory aspects of the project, the spokesperson said.

According to a previous report, France's Total, US-based ChevronTexaco, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) are considering bidding on the contract.

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