Ecuador's state oil company Petroecuador plans to announce the timeline for bidding on contracts for the company's five main oil fields this week, local press reported.
Energy and mines minister Carlos Arboleda announced plans last week to award association contracts instead of service contracts on the fields.
Arboleda previously said he would abandon plans to award association contracts following a 10-day strike in June against government moves to privatize the country's oil industry.
However, he now says "that type of contract is for small jobs and here we want [contracts] that will allow the optimization of the fields and make them productive for the next 20 years," newspaper La Hora reported. E
"These are alternatives that are in the law," an energy ministry source told BNamericas, attributing minister Arboleda's apparent contradictions to press misrepresentation. Which alternative to take "depends on what's most convenient for the state and the interested companies," the source said. E
The fields in question - Auca, Shushufindi, Lago Agrio, Libertador and Sacha - are currently producing about 210,000Ibarrels a day (b/d), but Arboleda wants to increase that amount by about 50,000b/d.I
The first auction round will likely include one of the five Petroecuador fields and the 200,000 hectare block 29 in the Amazon region, with estimated reserves of 120 million barrels, press reported. E
According to previous reports, Arboleda's proposed association contract structure would give private companies 20-year contracts and a 60% stake in the production of the field, while the state receivesU40%. A
However, many Petroecuador workers and some managers say that this structure amounts to privatization, by giving away the country's most important oil fields to private companies.