Ecuador pushes bid deadline for 11th oil-licensing round
BY MERCEDES ALVARO
QUITO -- Ecuador has extended for the second time the deadline to submit offers for companies interested in the country's 11th oil licensing round to explore for oil in blocks located in the southeastern Amazon region, the Ministry of Nonrenewable Natural Resources said.
The original deadline to submit offers was May end, but in April the government of President Rafael Correa extended the deadline to July mid. The government extended the deadline again, to November end.
The licensing round was called last November for 13 oil blocks in Pastaza and Morona Santiago provinces, near the border with Peru.
As part of the licensing round, state run oil company Petroamazonas also plans to negotiate directly with foreign state owned companies to jointly develop three other blocks in the area.
The bid opening was suspended after a request from companies that bought papers that asked for more time to evaluate the blocks the Nonrenewable Natural Resources Minister Pedro Merizalde told Dow Jones Newswires, without providing further details.
According to the minister, 10 companies, between private and state owned, have bought the necessary documents to submit offers.
Last year, the government said about 20 companies had expressed interest in the tender, including Repsol, Pacific Rubiales Energy, Talisman Energy, and state-owned companies from Peru, Colombia, Turkey and Vietnam, among others.
Analysts have said the licensing round will be a test of how the Ecuadorean oil sector is seen by investors following the government's 2010 decision to change oil contracts. Private oil producers currently receive fees per barrel rather than taking ownership of the oil they extract.
Additionally, indigenous communities and environmental groups have asked private and public companies not to participate in the bidding, arguing it violates the rights of at least seven indigenous nationalities by imposing oil projects in their ancestral territories.
The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), and the Confederation of Amazonian Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONFENIAE), gathered in the central square of Puyo, in Pastaza province, to oppose the auction that they say "would devastate their communities and their way of life."
Franco Viteri, President of CONFENIAE, said that the nationalities were on alert and would "not rest" until the oil round was canceled. He also said they were willing to mobilize further if needed.
Dow Jones Newswires