Peter Howard Wertheim
RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb. 24 -- Ecuador's President Alfredo Palacio declared a state of emergency in the Napo province Feb. 22 after protesters attacked two oil pipelines.
Protesters want the government to build two highways and an airport that former President Lucio Gutierrez had promised. He was forced out of office in April 2005.
Petroecuador, the state oil company, has twice this month declared force majeure on crude exports.
On Feb. 21, it resumed operation of the Sistema de Oleoducto Transecuadoriano (SOTE) crude pipeline, which the government owns.
Protesters attacked and seized a SOTE pumping station Feb. 19. Authorities retook it the next day.
Protesters also struck the Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados Ecuador (OCP) oil pipeline, occupying the Sardinas pumping station and causing pipeline operations to be suspended. The OCP transports oil to an export terminal at Esmeraldas.
Government officials refused to negotiate with protesters while they occupied the OCP facilities.
Together, the two pipelines send 530,000 b/d of oil to international markets.