Ecuador Has Not Ruled Out Sacha, Libertador Tender

Ecuador's energy ministry has not ruled out calling for bids on contracts to boost production on state oil company Petroecuador's oil fields Sacha and Libertador, a ministry source told BNamericas.

President Lucio Gutierrez decided in early October to leave these two fields out of a tender for an association contract to be launched this week to increase production on Petroecuador's other main fields Shushufindi, Auca, Lago Agrio and Culebra-Yulebra. The reason is that the government wants to be "cautious" in calling for bids on Petroecuador's fields, and wants to see how the market responds to the tender for the first four fields, the source said.

The government will also consider how efficiently Petroecuador is able to continue producing oil on Sacha and Libertador without private investment, the source added. "If everything goes well in terms of Petroecuador's work, they will continue on those fields, but if there is a lack of money then there will be another tender for Libertador and Sacha," the source said.

Meanwhile, the energy ministry has postponed publishing bid rules for the contract on Shushufindi, Auca, Lago Agrio and Culebra-Yulebra until October 29-30 from October 25, the source said. The delay is because of some "minor changes" to the wording of the bid rules, the source said, and come after a meeting last week between energy minister Carlos Arboleda and congress, in which some legislators made some "observations about regulatory points in the contract to avoid anything that does not strictly adhere to the law," the source added.

The ministry plans to receive bids by the end of December. Shushufindi, Auca, Lago Agrio and Culebra-Yulebra have combined reserves of about 850 million barrels. The terms of the association contract require the winning bidder to pay 35% royalties for incremental production on top of the 12.5% royalties normally charged. The plan is designed to attract private investment in the country's flagging oil sector to boost falling production and bring in new technologies.

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