Ecuador sold 500-600 million crude oil barrels as part of early purchase agreements negotiated in the last decade to settle the nation’s debts with foreign firms, the minister of hydrocarbons Carlos Perez stated on Monday.
The OPEC’s smallest member resorted to these types of contracts in order to finance its budget and now must deliver the crude to oil companies Petrochina and Unipec Asia – a subsidiary of Sinopec – as well as Thai PTT.
“At a production level, we currently still owe about half of what we agreed to pay, meaning 500-600 million crude barrels still to be delivered,” Perez explained in an interview in Ecuavisa.
President Lenin Moreno, who took office this year, recognized on Monday that the country’s economic situation is “critical” due to the high public debt and financing needs.
Ecuador’s public debt stood at $41.8 billion in May, according to official data. The minister said that “there is still a small space to make oil pre-sales,” but it will depend on the economic authorities’ strategy to obtain fresh resources for the State.
The South American country also has outstanding debts with oil services companies, mainly with Schlumberger, to which it owes US$850 million. “The debt was renegotiated (…) and I believe this week we’ll make the first payment of US$40 million,” the official explained. Ecuador produces around 545,000 barrels per day.