QUITO -(Dow Jones)- Ecuador's government wants to keep the crude oil in the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini field underground, but if that initiative fails, it has a fallback plan that will allow the country to extract the crude, Non- renewable Natural Resources Minister Germanico Pinto said in a television interview Tuesday.
A plan known as the Yasuni-ITT initiative launched earlier by the government aims to seek a minimum of $350 million per year from the international community as compensation for not allowing drilling in the ITT field. The field is part of the Yasuni National Park.
The park is the country's largest nature reserve and according to some scientists one of the most biodiverse places on earth.
The government has said that it will use the money raised through the initiative to invest in such as geothermal, wind and solar power plants.
The Yasuni-ITT initiative, which would keep the crude oil underground, is the government's "priority," Pinto said in a TV interview.
However Pinto added that the government has a plan "B" to extract the crude from Tambococha-Tiputini, "which would be ready if the initiative doesn't work." The plan "B" excludes the development of the Ishpingo area.
According to official data, the Tambococha-Tiputini area contains 50% of the field's crude oil, while Ishpingo has the other 50%.
The ITT field holds estimated reserves around 900 million barrels of heavy crude oil.
President Rafael Correa has said if the Yasuni-ITT initiative fails, Petroamazonas, a unit of state-run Petroecuador, will carry out the development of the oil project.