Ecuador Aims to Auction ITT Oil Field Concession 1Q 2005

Ecuador's government plans to auction in the first quarter of 2005 a concession for exploration and production of 1 million barrels of crude at the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini field.

Energy Minister Eduardo Lopez made the announcement Thursday after a presentation by analysts who confirmed the existence of crude oil reserves totaling 6 million barrels at the ITT field.

The ITT field is one of the more ambitious oil projects in the Andean nation. The government hopes to attract investment of $4 billion for the project's development.

In a first stage of development, the government is aiming for daily production at the field of between 160,000 and 180,000 barrels, which would boost Ecuador's total oil production to about 700,000 barrels per day.

Lopez guaranteed that the government would, before the end of the year, carry out required environmental steps and establish the appropriate legal framework for the partnerships to be established with private sector companies.

Approval of a new hydrocarbons law isn't necessary for the concessions to be granted, but specific procedures may need to be put in place.

Meantime, the minister reiterated the government's plans to restructure state-run Petroecuador. The restructuring will be carried out with the assistance of Brazil's state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR), thanks to an agreement signed between the two countries last week.