Ecuador seeks reinstatement in OPEC

Ecuador has formally requested reinstatement as a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), according to official sources.

Oct 19th, 2007

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 19 -- Ecuador has formally requested reinstatement as a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), according to official sources.

Ecuador's foreign ministry said oil and mining minister Galo Chiriboga made the request in a letter sent to the organization Oct. 11. Chiriboga's letter also expressed the desire of President Rafael Correa to attend OPEC's Nov. 17-18 meeting in Saudi Arabia.

Officially, Ecuador never left OPEC. Its membership was suspended in late 1992 after it failed to pay its fees to the group. But Correa, since taking office in January, has expressed his desire to return to active OPEC membership.

"The decision to return to OPEC has been taken and this will open up a lot of opportunities, among them access to credit in Middle East banks," Correa said last April.

In March, OPEC president Mohammed al-Hamili said Ecuador could return to the group "at any time" and that the only requirement would be for the South American country to make good on back fees.

According to foreign ministry sources, Ecuador must pay $4.7 million to OPEC for the 15 years it did not contribute to the group and a further $1 million guaranty upon rejoining it.

Ecuadorian officials said the country's bid is backed by Venezuela, the only Latin American member of OPEC, which has offered to help pay the $4.7 million in outstanding dues. Ecuador is the fifth largest oil producer in South America, with output of 530,000 b/d.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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