Petroecuador Oil Workers Begin Strike

Oil workers from Petroecuador began striking on Monday. Communications from the Amazon region have been suspended and the supply of sweet crude needed to mix with heavier grades has been halted. Faustin Valencia, president of the Oil Workers Confederation of Petroecuador, or Fetrapec said the strike would spread among other operations as long as Oil Minister Carlos Arboleda remains in his post, the government doesn't change its oil sector policy and modify its public sector wage reform legislation, and drop its plan to cut domestic cooking gas subsidies for some social sectors. Approximately 1,400 workers in Quito stopped working on Monday hindering Petroecuador's administrative division. Valencia said the strike would spread to other company offices throughout the country.

Meanwhile, Arboleda said President Lucio Gutierrez has a decree ready that would declare the oil sector in a state of emergency, allowing the military to step in and permitting the government latitude to prevent the oil sector from becoming paralyzed.

Late last week the government named Pedro Espin the new president of Petroecuador in place of ousted president, Guillermo Rosero. The government on Friday also removed two Petroecuador board members, Victor Hugo Jijon and Alex Guzman, after removing Marcelo Roman from the board a day earlier. The departing officials had expressed opposition to a government plan seeking greater private sector participation in the industry.