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Ecuador's oil production is expected to be offline for at least three weeks, the country's government said on Friday after declaring a force majeure on Thursday.
Ecuador announced the force majeure for its oil industry following a Marker River bridge collapse that triggered a closure of crude oil and gas pipelines. Petroecuador and pipeline operator OCP Ecuador suspended pipelines on Wednesday after the bridge collapsed.
On Thursday, Petroecuador said it would gradually shut oil wells, estimating that it would be seven days before pumping would begin to restart.
"By virtue of the force majeure, occasioned by the collapse of a bridge on the Marker River due to heavy seasonal rains, force majeure is declared for operators of exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons which have been affected by hydrocarbon transport through the SOTE, OCP and Shushufindi Quito polyduct systems and the impossibility they have of receiving and transporting crude oil," Ecuador's Ministry said on Thursday.
But the country's oil production is looking like it will be out for longer.
On Friday, Energy Minister Fernando Santos said, "Turning off wells is simple, but restarting them is a bit complicated, we're talking about maybe some three weeks."
Ecuador routinely has trouble with its SOT and OCP pipelines that create stoppages due to tubing damage from rocks and landslides.
Ecuador's economy heavily depends on oil production and exports, with government data showing that oil accounted for one-third of the country's oil exports, and World Bank data suggesting that oil rents were responsible for 7% of its gross domestic product.
Ecuadorian President Lasso said that the country would strive to double its oil production by the end of his term in 2025, which would mean a total of nearly a million barrels per day.
State-controlled Petroecuador is responsible for 80% of the country's oil output.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.