Oriente limbo

Ecuadorian officials warn that a high-profile case against US major ChevronTexaco Corp. may further delay their plans to be a leading Latin American oil exporter this decade.When Lucio Gutierrez became Ecuador's president last February, he predicted oil revenues from a new $1.4 billion pipeline would help heal his country's economy. Eight months later, an international consortium began moving 180,000 b/d of heavy oil from the Oriente basin. But years may pass before the 450,000 b/d capacity pipeline fills.Promises unmetForeign oil companies recently walked away from a proposed oil auction because some royalty rates exceeded 50%. Meanwhile, Ecuador's Congress continues to resis...

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