17 July 2013, News Wires – Ecuador extended a licensing round for 16 oil blocks on Tuesday, saying it wanted to give interested energy companies more time to study the areas and the government’s conditions.
The round was launched late last year and has already been extended once. Ecuador is hopeful of attracting investment of at least $1 billion in the blocks, 13 of which are new and three of which are assigned to state-run oil company Petroamazonas.
Companies now have until 28 November to submit offers, Reuters reported. The round was originally due to end in May, but that was extended until 16 July.
The Ministry of Non-Renewable Resources said in a statement that the decision had been taken to give various companies more time “to deepen their economic evaluation of the blocks.”
Ecuador’s oil output has been stagnant at around 500,000 barrels per day since 2010 when the government asked oil investors to sign less-profitable service contracts or leave the country. Since then, oil companies have not invested in exploration.
The 16 blocks are in the south-east, close to the border with Peru and a long way from the northern Amazon regions where Opec’s smallest member has so far produced most of its crude.
Six indigenous groups in the area have expressed fears oil drilling will damage their ancestral land. The region has huge environmental diversity and borders Yasuni National Park, with its broad range of wildlife.