Ecuador plans to start production at Block 31 in Yasuni park in October
BY MERCEDES ALVARO
QUITO -- Petroamazonas plans to start next month production at its Block 31, located at Yasuni National Park, the company's general manager said.
Oswaldo Madrid told journalists that production will start with an average of 2,000 bpd from the Apaika and Nenke fields. Peak production for those fields could be about 20,000 bbl.
About 70% of the 494,000 acre Block 31 lies within Yasuni National Park, a Unesco world biosphere reserve.
Maximum production at Block 31 could reach about 73,000 bbl by 2023 with the drilling of more fields, but to develop another field in the area Petroamazonas needs authorization from the National Assembly.
Block 31 was previously operated by Petroleo Brasileiro. It was given back to the state after Petrobras clashed with the government of Ecuador President Rafael Correa over tax issues.
In 2010, the company left Ecuador after failing to reach an agreement with the government on changing its oil sharing deal to a services contract for its Block 18.
Since Ecuador approved a first environmental license for Petrobras to operate in Block 31 in 2004, environmentalists and scientific groups have lobbied against oil exploration in the park, which is thought to be one of the most biodiverse areas in the world.
Block 31 is near the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini, or ITT oil block, part of which, too, lies within Yasuni National Park.
Ecuador's lawmakers will need to vote on a request from Mr. Correa asking the National Assembly to declare the exploitation of ITT crude to be in the national interest.
Several lawmakers expect the assembly to make a decision as soon as the end of this month.
Dow Jones Newswires