Petroecuador to explore Block 31 to offset expected decline from ITT block closure

March 8, 2024
Petroecuador will begin an exploration campaign in Block 31 within the Yasuní National Park. The aim is to offset the potential production decline following the abandonment of Block 43-ITT.

Ecuadorian national oil company Petroecuador will begin an exploration campaign in Block 31 within the Yasuní National Park. The aim is to offset the potential production decline following the abandonment of Block 43-ITT (Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini fields), also within the park, said Marcela Reinoso, Petroecuador's manager, in an appearance before the National Assembly.

Petroecuador plans to expand Block 31 reserves, currently estimated at 45.5 million bbl of 16-degree API in the Apaika and Nenke areas. The block, on the western side of ITT, currently contributes about 11,500 b/d of oil, representing less than 3% of Petroecuador's total production.

Closure of the ITT block is scheduled for later this year, as decided Ecuadorians via referendum (OGJ Online, Jan. 26, 2024). 

Since the start of Block 43 (ITT) exploitation in 2016, Petroecuador has produced 122.4 million bbl of oil. While remaining ITT reserves are estimated at 125 million bbl with resources of 250 million bbl, Reinoso said Petroecuador’s 2024 development plan will not fully compensate for production ceased from ITT.

Ecuador's national oil production has declined 1% to 475,249 b/d, the lowest level since 2020 when the country extracted 473,881 b/d of oil. If the ITT block closes in August 2024, the country is expected to produce 172 million bbl of oil in the field, which would result in production of 471,232 b/d, a decrease of 2,648 b/d, according to projections from Petroecuador and the Ministry of Energy, submitted to the Central Bank of Ecuador.  

Elsewhere, Petroecuador has begun drilling well SCHAQ-605 on the SACHA AQ platform (Sacha 490) in Orellana province with estimated production of 700 b/d. The company said it has drilled 10 wells at the location, with total production of 7,800 b/d. Five additional wells are expected to be drilled, which could increase production by 3,500 bbl. Petroecuador estimates the area holds production potential of 79,000 b/d with proven reserves of 342 million bbl.