Ecuador's Minister of Nonrenewable Natural Resources Resigns

QUITO, Ecuador - Wilson Pastor, Ecuador's minister of nonrenewable natural resources, has tendered his resignation to President Rafael Correa and will be replaced by Pedro Merizalde as part of a cabinet reshuffle as Mr. Correa prepares for a third four-year term, senior government officials told Dow Jones Newswires on Wednesday.

The ministry is key for Ecuador's public-policy making, as it sets and supervises policy for the oil and mining sectors.

Mr. Merizalde, a 61-year-old oil engineer, is the current chief executive of the Refineria del Pacifico project, the $10 billion venture of Ecuador's state-run oil company Petroecuador, which holds a 51% stake in the refinery, and Venezuela's state-run oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela, owner of the remaining 49%.

Both Mr. Merizalde and Mr. Pastor declined to comment.

President Correa has said he plans some changes to his cabinet, as part of an effort to deepen his "citizen's revolution" during his third term, which begins on May 24.

Mr. Correa was re-elected on Feb. 17 for a four-year term.

Mr. Pastor took office as nonrenewable natural resources minister in April 2010 and played a key role to change oil contracts for private companies operating in the country, setting fees based on output, instead of granting ownership of the barrels that private companies extract.

In the last months Mr. Pastor has been promoting the 11th oil licensing round, which was launched in November.

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

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