Ecuador resumes membership in OPEC

Ecuador has resumed its membership in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which it left in 1992, with the arrival of President Rafael Correa at a summit of the group's leaders in Saudi Arabia.

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 20 -- Ecuador has resumed its membership in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which it left in 1992, with the arrival of President Rafael Correa at a summit of the group's leaders in Saudi Arabia.

Ecuador's membership in OPEC was welcomed by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, who had earlier championed its return. According to Ecuadorian officials their country's bid was backed by Venezuela, which offered to help pay the $4.7 million in outstanding dues (OGJ Online, Oct. 19, 2007).

In his opening speech at the OPEC summit, Chavez also referred to "the 13 member countries of OPEC," indicating that the previously 12-member cartel had welcomed in Ecuador as its new member.

Ecuador's president Rafael Correa wasted little time in supporting the Venezuelan leader at the summit in Riyadh, backing Chavez's calls to increase OPEC's political influence on the global stage.

At a press conference, Correa said he agreed "completely" with Chavez's position, which the Venezuelan leader outlined in a speech at the summit's opening dinner.

In his speech, Chavez said that OPEC must "change and become a much stronger player in the geopolitical and geoeconomic domains" and that "in the years ahead OPEC should set itself up as an active political agent."

In his remarks, Correas said: "OPEC must take political action because we are (making) public policy—and public policy is political." Correa also called on consuming nations to do more to "compensate" OPEC nations for the environmental and other costs of producing oil.

Ecuador is the fifth largest oil producer in South America, with output of 530,000 b/d or less. In September, Ecuador produced 517,000 b/d—less than any other member of the organization.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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