New Petroecuador president named to quell unrest

Ecuador has appointed Navy Rear Admiral Fernando Zurita to head Ecuadoran State Petroleum Enterprise to deal with an emergency situation facing the state-run oil company.

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 5 -- Ecuador has appointed Navy Rear Admiral Fernando Zurita to head Ecuadoran State Petroleum Enterprise to deal with an emergency situation facing the state-run oil company.

The action was taken partly due to an urgent need to restructure Petroecuador but mainly to quell a public protest that has caused a drop in production at the Auca Sur, Auca Central, and Cononaco oil fields.

"The forced interruption affects 47 oil wells, which means a daily loss of approximately $3 million, since they have stopped producing 36,000 b/d of oil, plus the damage done to oil-field infrastructure," said Ecuador's President Rafael Correa in a statement.

Zurita's first mission will be to indict "on grounds of sabotage the unpatriotic people who inflicted the damage," a presidential decree said. The administration said it does not rule out declaring a state of emergency in Orellana province.

Earlier, Petroecuador said it had lost some 5,000 bbl of oil output due to a continuing protest by local villagers that disrupted operations in Dayuma in Orellana Province (OGJ Online, Nov. 28, 2007).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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