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Ecuador Shuts In Production At Three Oil Fields Amid Protests

Ecuador’s state-owned energy company Petroamazonas has suspended production at three fields amid protests against rising fuel prices that have forced the government to move from the capital Quito to the coastal city of Guayaquil.

Reuters quotes the Ecuadorian energy ministry as saying the field was “taken” by “individuals not affiliated with the operation.” The ministry added it had deployed the army at key locations in a bid to “safeguard the Ecuadoran state’s resources.” 

Ecuador increased fuel prices by up to 120 percent earlier this month and this sparked protests among farmers and indigenous peoples, France 24 reports. Hundreds have taken to the streets and roads, blocking them and burning tires and barricades.

Removing fuel subsidies was the reason for the price spike as the government of Lenin Moreno seeks to shrink Ecuador’s fiscal deficit. As the protests enter their fifth day, President Moreno has accused his former compatriots of staging a coup with the help of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro.

“What has happened is not a manifestation of social discontent in protest of a government decision. The lootings, vandalism and violence show there is an organized political motive to destabilize the government,” Moreno said.

Several thousand people are marching towards the capital Quito, according to a local organization of indigenous people, CONAIE. France 24 recalls that almost 20 years ago CONAIE was instrumental in the ousting of then-president Jamil Mahuad from office during another economic crisis.

Troubled by its economic woes, Ecuador recently announced it would leave OPEC from January next year as it seeks to increase its oil revenues, which cannot happen if it complies with a production cap.

The Andean country has crude oil reserves estimated at 8.27 billion barrels and produces a little over half a million barrels daily, according to OPEC data. Of this, close to 400,000 bpd are exported.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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