Petroecuador declares ‘force majeure’; Attorney General won’t rule on Noboa’s request; Ecuador, Costa Rica sign trade deal; Noboa’s damage control

Jun 21, 2024 | 0 comments

Following the shutdown of its Heavy Crude Oil Pipeline (OCP), Petroecuador has declared force majeure to protect it against fines and penalties for delayed oil shipments. The declaration follows erosion on the Coca River that exposed 140 meters of the previously buried pipeline.

While work continues to reroute the pipeline, Petroecuador says oil production has dropped about 55,000 barrels a day, from 485,500 to 430,350 barrels. Oil that was in the pipeline when weekend rains caused the erosion is being stored in tanks at the ITT fields where production at 55 wells has been suspended.

Repair work on Ecuador’s heavy crude pipeline from the Amazone is expected to take 10 days to two weeks, according to Petroecuador.

Petroecuador did not give a date when the pipeline will resume full operations but said repair work will take from 10 days to two weeks.

Under optimum conditions, the OCP transports about 40% of the heavy crude from oil fields in the Amazon basin.

Petroecuador also reported that Wednesday’s nationwide power failure reduced production at other oil fields but that the reduction will be made up in the coming days.

Attorney General won’t rule on Noboa’s request
The Attorney General’s office has declined to rule on President Daniel Noboa’s claim he does not need to turn over presidential duties to the vice president while he campaigns for reelection. Noboa insists that the constitutional requirement does not apply in his case due to the fact that he is completing the presidential term of former president Guillermo Lasso.

In his written opinion, Assistant Attorney General Juan Carlos Larrea said his office lacks the authority to rule on the issue “since it concerns a constitutional interpretation.” He added that a ruling would be a violation of the separation of governmental powers.

The succession of presidential power has become an issue as a result of a personal and political conflict between Noboa and Vice President Veronica Abad, who he assigned as ambassador to Israel after his election last year.

The decision by the Attorney General’s office to defer on Noboa’s request is the second such decision in two weeks. Earlier, the National Electoral Council said it “lacked the legal competence and authority” to pass judgement.

Last week, an effort to impeach Abad fell short in the National Assembly on allegations she is involved in an extortion case with her son regarding an employee in the Vice President’s office.

Ecuador, Costa Rica sign trade deal
Ecuador and Costa Rica announced a new trade agreement on Wednesday, following a sign off from the countries’ presidents. Under terms of the agreement, 90% of Costa Rican products will enter Ecuador without tariffs while 97% of Ecuadorian products will be tariff-free in Costa Rica.

Ecuador’s Trade Ministry says the agreement will be especially beneficial for the country’s seafood and agricultural interests while Costa Rica President Rodrigo Chaves praised the pact, saying that a system of “well-managed international trade is a sign of prosperity” and that it is part of his country’s plan to attain “first world status.”

Noboa does damage control
President Daniel Noboa and Foreign Minister Gabriela Sommerfeld have been busy making phone calls to foreign governments “clarifying and explaining” comments made by Noboa to New Yorker magazine writer Jon Lee. The comments about other Latin American presidents appear in a profile article on Noboa that appeared last week.

Noboa is quoted making derogatory remarks about El Salvador President Nayib Bukele (“arrogant”), Argentine President Javier Milei (“self-absorbed”) and Colombian President Gustavo Petro (“a leftist snob”). In the article, Noboa praises Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva.

Sommerfeld claimed some of the quotes, although verbatim, were taken out of context while others were made facetiously. She also said that Noboa was not aware he was being quoted at the time he made the comments although he knew that Lee was writing an article for the New Yorker.

Sommerfeld said she has been in touch with the foreign ministers in El Salvador, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil, explaining Noboa’s position and “true feelings.” She said Noboa has made personal phone calls to the four presidents named the article.

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