Venezuelan Drill Starts Operations in Ecuador

The first Venezuelan 2,000 HP CPV-16 drill which arrived in Ecuador on December 24th, 2007, started operations in the Guanta 19 oil well located in Lago Agrio, an Amazonian province of Sucumbios, 180 kilometers northeast of Quito.

Right in the Ecuadorian Amazon a ceremony was held to mark this event. It was attended by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) Exploration and Production Vice-President Luis Vierma, Ecuadorian Minister of Mines and Petroleum Galo Chiriboga, and the board of directors of Ecuadorian state-run oil holding Petroecuador.

President Correa opened his speech by greeting the PDVSA staff and representatives of the indigenous communities.

The Ecuadorian head of state said that selfishness was overcome by solidarity and cooperation. He added that friendly hands, such as the hands of the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Hugo Chavez, would help take the country out from the energy stagnation undergone under the previous governments. He railed on antipatriotic parties that disturb the Latin American environment and fail to acknowledge the benefits of these exchanges between our nations.

In addition, he noted the significance of the operations of this derrick in Ecuador, for being a real fact within the framework of the regional energy union. The Ecuadorian president reported that in the middle of March a second Venezuelan drill would arrive in Ecuador as part of an energy agreement entered into by Venezuela and Ecuador. The deal will help increase the domestic oil output by 10,000-15,000 bpd.

PDVSA Exploration and Production VP Luis Vierma said that the contribution for oil exploration and production in Ecuador includes multiple actions with an impact on the future. He made reference to the arrival in Ecuador of the "Manuela Saenz" ship in February 2007. Then, both nations started to exchange oil with byproducts.

Vierma listed the strides in marketing of lubricants, joint works in Sacha field and, most importantly, the fulfillment of a pledge made by President Chavez in August 2007, concerning the rental of two drills to remove profit and tax collection.

The Exploration and Production VP reported on the plans to include in this integrationist action under the agreements, training of Ecuadorian youngsters in Venezuela in geo-science and engineering.

For his part, Ecuadorian Minister of Mines and Petroleum Galo Chiriboga thanked Venezuela for all the efforts made towards the Ecuadorian oil development. He noted that the Ecuadorian reciprocity was shown by unconditional support in view of the attacks from US company ExxonMobil on Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA). For this reason, from March 4th, 2008, Ecuadorian lawyers will attend the next meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to provide assistance in this case.

The Ecuadorian minister reported on the upcoming organization of a joint venture by PDVSA and Petroecuador, which will be responsible for the building of a refinery on the Pacific coast. He highlighted the beginning of the seismic surveys to quantify gas reserves in Guayaquil Gulf.

It is worth mentioning that the Presidents of Venezuela and Ecuador initialed the Energy Security Declaration in August 2007, in order to secure the hydrocarbons supply to the countries in the region and bridge the existing gap.