Strike costs Ecuador 1.99 million barrels of oil sales; Production should reach 90% of normal this week
More than two weeks of indigenous protests in Ecuador caused state-run oil company Petroecuador to lose 1.99 million barrels of oil production, the company said on Friday, adding that it expects to reach 90% of pre-crisis output in the next week.
Protests erupted in Ecuador in June to demand lower fuel prices and limits to the expansion of the mining and oil industries, leading to at least eight deaths and devastating oil production. A pact to end the crisis was signed on Thursday between the government of President Guillermo Lasso and indigenous leaders.
The incident cost the company some $512.9 million, more than half of which came from lost production, while missed exports of Oriente crude — which were declared under force majeure earlier this week — cost it some $110 million.
“We found some facilities destroyed, vandalized,” said Petroecuador’s manager, Italo Cedeño, in a news conference.
The company said it recovered 19,000 barrels per day (bpd) of output since the protests ended on Thursday, while its Esmeraldas refinery was working at 70% capacity on Friday.
As part of the deal to end the protests, the government agreed to a total reduction in fuel prices at the pumps of 15 cents of dollar per gallon, which is expected to push up oil subsidies in the country to $2.78 billion per year, Cedeño said. About $1.75 billion of the subsidy is for LP gas, which Ecuadorians use for cooking.
Petroecuador was forced to issue a wide force majeure declaration across the oil industry on June 18. The notice, enforced earlier this week on crude exports, is expected to be lifted on July 7, once the company can assure customers that supply contracts will be fulfilled.
The commitments include a key supply contract to U.S. refiner Marathon Petroleum that Petroecuador expects to be able to preserve, Cedeño said. Ecuador has become the second largest heavy oil supplier to the U.S. West Coast after Canada.
Crude output slightly rose to 262,500 bpd on Thursday from a low of 234,310 bpd the day earlier, following the reopening of oilfields, power lines and other energy infrastructure.
Over 1,200 wells had been shut due to lower fuel supplies and road blocks during the protests. Petroecuador has yet to complete an assessment of total reopening and reactivating costs, the executive said.