SOURCE: Dow Jones Newswires | 07 Feb 2011

QUITO -(Dow Jones)- Ecuadorian state-owned oil company Petroecuador said Monday it expects to produce 51 million barrels of oil in 2011 from its oil fields and to invest about $40 million this year in the gas-producing block 3, formerly owned by Houston-based Noble Energy Inc.

Last November, Noble Energy failed to reach an agreement with the government of President Rafael Correa on changing its production-sharing contract to a service contract and Petroecuador terminated the contract and took over Noble's operations.

Noble has reported proved reserves in block 3 to be 171 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

Marco Calvopina, Petroecuador's general manager, said at a press conference that the state company will invest $200 million over the next three years in block 3, located in the Gulf of Guayaquil.

Production of natural gas in the block is expected to rise to 75 million to 80 million cubic feet a day by 2013, from the current level of 35 million cubic feet per day.

Calvopina added that Petroecuador in April plans to sign contracts with private companies interested in carrying out recovery projects to increase oil production in Petroecuador's five mature oil fields: Shushufindi, Libertador, Auca, Lago Agrio and Cuyabeno, located in the Ecuador's northern Amazon.

The oil output in these fields should increase between 7% to 15% in about two years.

Petroecuador's mature oil fields have been in production for more than 30 years and their oil has high water levels. Of each barrel produced, about 60% is water and about 40% is oil.

According to Petroecuador, about 10 companies are interested in the project, including Halliburton Co., Baker Hughes Inc., Schlumberger Ltd., Switzerland's Weatherford International Ltd., Bakrie Kalila and China's Sinopec.

By Mercedes Alvaro, Dow Jones Newswires

02-07-11 1612ET

Copyright (c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.



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