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Ecuador improved conditions for private fuel, natural gas imports

Ecuador Mnistry of  Energy
Minister of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources of Ecuador, Juan Carlos Bermeo Calderón

Por Alberto Araujo / Argus

Petroleumworld 10 11 2021

Ecuador's energy ministry authorized six private-sector companies to import fuel and natural gas, part of a wider campaign to introduce competition in the domestic market.

Local firms Agnamar, Corpetrol, Oceanbat and Marzam are now cleared to import refined products, while US-based Sycar and Ecuador's Gasvesubio can import natural gas. Sycar has said it is working with an LNG trading company to establish a terminal at Bajo Alto.

The fuel importers will be able to use state-owned PetroEcuador's transportation and storage infrastructure for an agreed fee, the ministry said.

In announcing the authorizations on 8 November, the energy ministry said fuel importers and marketers will be subject to the fuel prices fixed as of 22 October 2021: $2.55/USG for 85-octane "extra" gasoline and $1.90/USG for "premium" diesel. Only high-octane gasoline remains free of price caps.

In September 2020, Ecuador's former president Lenin Moreno promoted the opening of the fuel and gas markets to companies other than PetroEcuador. Although imports were not explicitly prohibited, investors did not see Ecuador as an attractive market because of below-market fuel prices and uncertainty over logistical costs.

Since May 2020, the government until recently had been carrying out monthly adjustments of low-octane gasoline and diesel prices to gradually bring them into line with market levels and eliminate costly subsidies. President Guillermo Lasso, Moreno's successor, suspended the adjustments last month in response to growing protests and strike threats led by indigenous groups and labor unions.

Energy minister Juan Carlos Bermeo told Argus in an interview last month that the price adjustments were designed to attract private-sector companies to import better quality fuel in a competitive market.

In a complement to the opening of the fuel market, the Lasso government intends to outsource PetroEcuador's 110,000 b/d Esmeraldas refinery in a tender that could be launched this month, Bermeo said.




By Alberto Araujo de Argus Media 09 11 2021



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