Petroecuador declares force majeure on tsunami alert

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 21, 2011 9:56 AM
Petroecuador declares force majeure on tsunami alert

By Santiago Silva and Alexandra Valencia

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador state oil company Petroecuador on Friday declared a precautionary force majeure on its oil exports due to a tsunami threat after an earthquake in Japan, but it said exports would be normal by Saturday.

OPEC member Ecuador, which exports from a Pacific port and whose main 110,000-barrel-per-day refinery is at Esmeraldas on the coast, was on alert after a huge earthquake off the coast of Japan brought tsunami warnings across the Pacific.

Petroecuador produces about 145,000 bpd, out of total national output of around 475,000 bpd.

It had said earlier that it was suspending the shipment and import of oil products.

Ecuador's private OCP heavy crude oil pipeline -- which has a capacity of 450,000 bpd but transports only around 120,000 bpd -- said it had suspended maritime operations and canceled a ship loading at its terminal in Esmeraldas province.

"OCP suspended all maritime operations, as a result, one ship loading was canceled ... we'll respect the request of authorities to abandon the sea before in Esmeraldas," the firm said in a statement.

That shipment was 360,000 barrels.

The 485-km (300-mile) heavy crude pipeline is 99 percent underground, and the maritime terminal has a storage capacity of five tanks of 750,000 barrels each, according to the firm.

(Writing by Jack Kimball; Editing by Walter Bagley)