The investment made by the State, in the last six years, in the field of natural gas Amistad did not generate the expected results. After allocating USD 545.9 million, between 2011 and 2017, to drill six wells and increase production to 100 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, the goal has not yet been met.
Of the six wells built in the depth of the Gulf of Guayaquil, during the previous government, gas was found only in three of those infrastructures. But of these, only the resources of two are used. The third well is scheduled to go into production next August, reported Álex Galárraga, manager of the public company Petroamazonas. Currently, 38 million cubic feet of natural gas are generated in this area daily.
On average, there are 6 million more in relation to the production peak reached in 2010 (32 million) by the Energy Development Company, which was in charge of the Amistad field between 1996 and 2010, until the oil contracts were renegotiated. Once the State assumed the operation of this area, the aspiration was to increase production. The peak was reached in 2014, although the goal was to reach 100 million. To establish this objective, the discovery of new reserves was considered, amounting to 1.7 trillion cubic feet, as announced in March 2012 by Petroecuador, which was in charge of this area.
The previous regime justified these figures, after the reinterpretation of the seismic studies and an intensive exploration campaign in the Gulf of Guayaquil, according to Petroecuador’s annual management report of 2012. But when we started to drill the reality was another. The first well that opened in 2012, with a jack up platform that was brought from Egypt, was dry.
During the entire drilling campaign, the State’s effectiveness in the findings was 50%. The EDC firm, in its time, was successful at 75%. The jack up platform was operated between 2012 and the beginning of 2015. Petroamazonas – in charge of the Amistad field since 2013 – argues that this item demanded around USD 300 million. This campaign was developed by the Italian Petrex consortium.
On average, the State canceled USD 90.9 million for each well drilled. Petroamazonas aims, now, to drill six more wells at a cost of USD 15 million each. In total, the State allocated USD 545.9 million for Friendship, from 2011 to 2017. The strongest amount, USD 409 million, was invested between 2013 and 2015.
In this period, they were at the head of the then Ministry of Non-Renewable Resources – Now Ministry of Hydrocarbons – Wilson Pástor, Pedro Merizalde and Carlos Pareja, who has a sentence for illicit association. Since 2016, the allocations for Friendship were drastically reduced to reach USD 1.5 million, last year. The main argument for making this decision was the result obtained in the wells. “It was not what was expected,” says Galárraga, who is in charge of the state oil company since the end of 2016.
The little “efficiency” obtained in the drilling promoted by the State is explained because it was not worked with “realistic figures”, emphasizes the manager of Petroamazonas. That is, the volume of natural gas announced in 2012 (1.7 trillion cubic feet) was overestimated. According to figures from the Ministry of Hydrocarbons of 2012, the reserves tested at Amistad were 0.422 trillion cubic feet. This represents a quarter of what Petroecuador announced on that date. “If it had been 1.7 trillion cubic feet it would have done wonders. The wells would not have declined in at least five years, “says Galárraga.
For Fernando Santos, former Minister of Energy, the authorities of the previous government “multiplied” the gas reserves, without further studies, to justify the “waste” of resources, although there were no greater results. Former Minister Wilson Pástor points out that when the State took over the Amistad operation, gas production increased. “If it did not reach 100 million cubic feet it was because there were failures. Geology is risky and sometimes you find what you are not looking for. “The former official also stresses that with the use of gas for the generation of energy in Termo Gas Machala, the State saved around USD 530 million, because it stopped importing diesel.
On the reserves of 1.7 trillion cubic feet, he says he does not remember details of that information. Luis Calero, oil specialist, estimates that due to the “not very transparent” management of this hydrocarbon area, it is necessary for the control authorities to investigate the studies and investments made. Petroamazonas requested, at the end of 2017, that the Comptroller’s Office conduct a special examination of the management of the Amistad field. And, in this month, began the search for private investment to increase production in this area and thus cover the demand.
The State assumed the operation of the Amistad field in 2011. But, currently, private investment is sought. This derivative is intended for the electrical generation of Termo Gas Machala and in the processes carried out by the manufacturers that manufacture ceramics. (I)