March 7, 2018 / 12:22 AM / a year ago

Chilean, Russian, Chinese firms interested in Ecuador's oil auction

Oil field technicians stand at an oil field of Ecuador's state oil company Petroamazonas, in Tiputini, Ecuador October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Daniel Tapia

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Chilean, Russian and Chinese energy companies are among the firms interested in participating in Ecuador’s upcoming bidding rounds for onshore and offshore blocks, the country’s oil minister said on Tuesday.

Ecuador plans to launch two auctions in March, the Intracampos round which includes eight onshore blocks and the mature field round, which includes four onshore areas - Cuyabeno, Oso, Vinita and Blanca - and the Amistad offshore gas field.

Chile’s GeoPark, a unit of Russia’s Rosneft, and China’s CCDC Petroleum and Hilong Group are among those expressing interest, said oil minister Carlos Perez.

The Andean country is in a race with Latin American neighbors Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and Uruguay to attract foreign capital to their energy sectors, but the scale of Ecuador’s projects is smaller.

“We expect to award all the blocks,” said Perez on the sidelines of the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston.

Forty companies have so far registered to bid for blocks that would be assigned to winners two months later under shared profit agreements and service contracts with Ecuador’s state-run oil company Petroamazonas.

The country plans to announce later this year terms of another bidding round including areas in Ecuador’s Southeastern region.

A group of small fields originally intended to be included in the March auctions were discarded due to a lack of interest from potential investors, Perez added.

Foreign investment is needed in Ecuador to reverse a production decline that knocked its crude output this year to 515,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 548,000 bpd in 2016.

Reporting by Marianna Parraga

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