Ecuador Indigenous Group Plans Demonstrations Against Oil Licensing Round

QUITO, Ecuador - Ecuador's Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities, or Conaie, said Wednesday it is planning demonstrations against the planned 11th licensing round for oil exploration in the country's southeast.

Humberto Cholango, Conaie's president, as well as representatives of several indigenous communities of the Ecuadorean Amazon, said at a press conference that they are against oil activity in their "ancestral lands," which they claim will be affected by the exploration.

Ecuador plans to launch a licensing round for oil exploration in the southeast, near the border with Peru, on Nov. 28 to tender 13 oil blocks.

Additionally, state-run oil company Petroecuador plans to negotiate with foreign state companies to develop three other blocks in the area.

"We are defending our land. We won't allow oil activity," said Franco Viteri, president of a Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorean Amazon, known as Confeniae.

The demonstrations will be held before the official call for the tender.

Mr. Cholango also said that Conaie plans to go to the Constitutional Court in an effort to stop the tender.

Ecuador expects to attract up to $1.2 billion worth of investment to develop the oil blocks of the 11th licensing round. The country plans to sign the respective contracts at the end of September 2013.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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