The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ecuador's Correa favours non-dollar oil pricing

By Simon Webb

RIYADH, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa favours pricing oil in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, he said on Sunday.

"I'm completely in favour of pricing our oil in a stronger currency," he told a press conference in Riyadh, held during a summit for the heads of state of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The fall in the value of the U.S. dollar was cutting the value of the country's oil, he added.

Despite oil's rise to a record price of $98.62 per barrel this month, Correa said in real terms the price was below its high in the 1980s. The weakness of the dollar has eroded some of the benefits of high oil prices to producing countries, Correa said, though he did not say which currency he thought oil should be priced in.

The Ecuadorean leader also backed a call of his leftist Latin American ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, for OPEC to take a bigger role on the world's political stage. Chavez made the call in a speech to the group's state leaders on Saturday.

"To try to deny OPEC's political vision is denying reality," he said.

Oil-swelled coffers have already fuelled rising political influence for big producers such as Venezuela and Iran. Chavez has used his nation's windfall oil cash to export his socialist vision through Latin America. The world's richest nations should pay for programmes to protect the environment in the poorest countries, Correa said.

"It annoys us ... all this moralising 'don't cut down your trees' from the first world, when they've already done it," he said. "If Europe wants to breathe pure air from Amazon countries then the Amazon countries shouldn't have to pay for it."


He proposed the creation of a special environmental tax on the world's oil consuming countries to fund environmental initiatives in the developing world. OPEC could coordinate the spending of the tax, Correa said.

Correa also reiterated his plan for developed countries to pay Ecuador to leave oil in the ground in its rainforest, saying rich nations should pay $350 million a year not to drill at the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) field.

That would be about half of what Ecuador could make if it developed the field and the country would go ahead with development in June if it got no response from rich nations.

Ecuador became OPEC's 13th member at the summit, rejoining after leaving the group in 1992. Rejoining has been a key plank of Correa's oil policy since he took office last year.

Correa said he had an aggressive plan for development of the country's oil and gas sector including plans to talk to Chinese firms about developing the ITT field on a scheduled trip to China.

He did not detail what type of contracts Ecuador may use for the field. Ecuador is shifting contracts away from agreements that give international companies a share of output to deals that use the companies as service providers.

Correa stunned foreign oil investors when he said last month he might take away all the extra profit foreign oil companies have been raking in as a result of surging prices.

He said a consortium of Brazilian state oil firm Petrobras and China's Sinopec was interested in the field.

A new refinery that Ecuador plans to build on its coast with Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA would export oil products to China and Asia as well as supplying the domestic market.

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