QUITO — Ecuador’s state oil company, Petroecuador, said on Saturday that it was losing an estimated 3,500 barrels of crude oil a day due to “vandalism” at two of its blocks, referring to recent Indigenous protests at the site.
In a statement, the company said that members of the Indigenous community had occupied the facilities of blocks 16 and 67 in Orellana province, in the country’s Amazonia, and closed a valve on the pipeline, halting the pumping of crude oil.
In addition, community members had caused a power cut that resulted in the shutdown of wells. The company did not specify on what date the site was occupied or for how many days production had been impacted so far.
The Indigenous community argues it was not consulted about the new operation of the blocks by Petroecuador and made other social demands. It began protesting in late December.
Petroecuador took over production of the blocks at the start of this year. Canadian New Stratus Energy had previously managed the blocks.
“In the event that the indicated valve cannot be opened, EP Petroecuador must proceed in the following six days to the gradual shutdown of the wells in the South zone … with an estimated daily loss of 11,500 barrels of crude oil,” the statement added.
It also noted that the ministry of energy and mining would lead a committee aiming to find a solution.
Petroecuador’s production is around 393,000 barrels of oil per day, according to official data. (Reporting by Alexandra Valencia in Quito Writing by Isabel Woodford Editing by Matthew Lewis)