Strike Causes Reduced Output from Ecuador's Pipeline

The Transecuadorean Pipeline, or SOTE, has had to reduce capacity by 30 percent due to the labor strike by state oil workers. Petroecuador President Pedro Espin said crude transport through the nation's only pipeline was reduced by 30 to 40 percent on Tuesday. However, he said the state oil company's crude output remained at normal levels on Tuesday, at about 212,000 bpd.

Union leader John Plaza said the pipeline would only carry between 180,000 and 200,000 barrels of crude from the Amazon jungle to the Pacific coast. "We've halted three units. We are at 50 percent of transport," he said.

Petroecuador employees went on strike on Monday to demand Energy Minister Carlos Arboleda resign and to protest his plans to let private firms pump for crude in state-run oil fields and use a private instead of a state pipeline for crude transport. The strike of 4,000 oil workers began on Monday and will gradually hit different operations.

Private firms that produce crude in Ecuador's Amazon have also been affected by the strike. Union leaders say Petroecuador has stopped providing firms with the lighter crude they need to transport their heavier grades through the SOTE.