Noble's existing wells in Amistad will only be able to supply Machala through 2004-2005, Davidson said. Noble did not want to "over drill" the field initially until it had seen how Ecuador's power market and prices were developing, he added.
Noble expects the utilization rate of its Machala plant to remain constant in 2004, with an expected dispatch rate of 80-85%. "We are comfortable the market has remained the same and we continue to see strong electricity prices," which in Ecuador are linked to the international crude price, Davidson said.
Noble's Machala power plant contributed US$2.3mn of the company's operating income during 4Q03, up from US$1.5mn in 4Q02. Machala produced 232,348MW at an average sales price of 7.2 cents/kWh. For the fourth quarter 2003, Noble Energy produced 26.3 million cubic feet a day (mcf/d) of natural gas from the Amistad field at an average price of US$3.49/mcf. Noble reported net income of US$78.0mn for 2003 and a net loss of US$21.1mn for the final quarter of the year.
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