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Friday, October 19, 2007

Petroecuador faces oil protests, output down

QUITO, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Petroecuador said on Wednesday it has lost 4,000 barrels of crude due to a protest by villagers in the Amazon jungle, while other communities were threatened by regional strikes to demand more benefits from the government.

Earlier this week, dozens of villagers in the Shushufindi region in the province of Sucumbios blocked roads leading to Petroecuador oil facilities to demand more jobs, a company spokesman said.

"This could really hurt production if it's not over soon," the spokesman said, adding that protesters are blocking oil workers and necessary fuels from reaching key oil fields.

Protesters are blocking the roads leading to the 45,000-barrels-per-day Shushufindi oil field and the 90,000-per-day oil Block 15, he said.

In the neighboring Orellana Province, its prefect, Guadalupe Llori, told Reuters villagers are planning a regional strike to demand a bigger share of the oil wealth from the state.

Llori demands that part of the revenue stemming from a recent hike in a windfall royalty charged to foreign oil companies reach the province's poor communities.

President Rafael Correa has successfully kept major protests at bay in the oil-rich Amazon region during his nine months in office with promises to boost social spending.

Energy Minister Galo Chiriboga on Tuesday said that the Shushufindi protesters demands were "not viable."

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