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Ecuador president issues decree to open Petroecuador to private investors


President Lasso's new hydrocarbons policy to seek private investment

Decree eyes bid rounds for Petroecuador refineries, pipelines, oilfields

Lasso aims to double Ecuador's crude production

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso issued a decree July 7 aimed at opening up state oil company Petroecuador's assets to private investment, reversing decades of statist policies in the country.

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The decree, which involves an "immediate plan of action" over the next 100 days, establishes a new hydrocarbons policy that seeks to boost the country's crude oil production, Lasso said.

"We must increase and improve our income, and one of the most important sectors is that of hydrocarbons," Lasso said at a broadcast signing ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Quito.

The decree includes a legal framework to make exploration and production contracts more equitable for local and foreign investors, clearing the way for the renegotiation of current contracts to encourage more private investment in exploration. A reform of the existing Hydrocarbons Law will be proposed, according to the decree.

It also facilitates the possibility of calling international bid rounds for private concessions to operate Petroecuador's oilfields, pipelines and 110,000 b/d Esmeraldas, 45,000 b/d La Libertad and 20,000 b/d Shushufindi refineries. The state company has 60 days to produce a report on the state of its assets.

The government, which also plans to sell off all of Petroecuador's 60 gasoline stations, will also seek to make crude transport and trading more efficient and transparent, in addition to creating an oil sustainability fund to finance social programs in oil-producing areas..

Lasso, a 65-year-old former banker who was sworn in May 24, has pledged to double the country's crude oil production to 1 million b/d in the medium term. He later met with a US delegation including five senators to discuss a potential free-trade agreement.

Petroecuador, which accounts for 80% of the country's crude output, was producing 388,064 b/d through July 4 and plans a 72 oilwell drilling program at its ITT oilfields.