A decision by the Constitutional Court of Ecuador could keep oil production in operation in Block 43-ITT (Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini) in Yasuní National Park, despite a popular referendum that showed 58.9% of Ecuadorians are in favor of shutting down production.
Facing fiscal challenges in the country, President Daniel Noboa's government seeks to maintain oil operations in the Amazon region block, which contributes 13% of the nation’s crude oil production, according to state-owned Petroecuador.
The August 2023 referendum did not set a deadline for the closure of operations. Therefore, the Constitutional Court ruled for a 1-year period, excluding holidays and weekends, to dismantle the block’s oil infrastructure.
The Noboa government holds the option to request, with justification, that the court modify its ruling and grant a compliance extension. Another option is to convene a new popular vote in which citizens can express opinions about postponing the closure of Yasuní to oil operations.
Petroecuador estimates that implementation of the exit plan could cost about $654 million.
Under the current timeframe, Petroecuador has 7 months remaining to dismantle operations, but due to a lack of resources, the abandonment process has not yet started. The company recently reported crude oil production of 410,000 b/d, including ITT production.