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OPEC Won’t Make ‘Significant’ Output Change, Ecuador Says

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may keep oil production quotas near current levels when they meet next month, Ecuador’s Non-Renewable Natural Resources Minister Wilson Pastor said today.

“We don’t see a significant change in production,” Pastor, who stepped down last year as OPEC’s president, said in an interview in Santiago. “The price of oil is at the level that OPEC has defended between $80 and $100. This is beneficial for the global economy.”

OPEC’s basket of crudes, a weighted average of the group’s main export grades, has averaged about $107 so far this year as political unrest in Libya, a member state, cut output. Ecuador, the group’s smallest member, has seen the price of its Oriente crude leap 32 percent in the last 12 months, according to Bloomberg prices.

The oil cartel is scheduled to meet in Vienna for an annual conference on Dec. 14. OPEC’s 12 members are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Pastor, who is also negotiating new contracts with mining companies in Ecuador, including units of Canada’s Kinross Gold Corp. and Iamgold Corp., said today the government wants 5 percent to 8 percent royalties from gold mines and 6 percent to 8 percent for copper, depending on prices.

President Rafael Correa said last week the new contracts will be signed in the “coming weeks.”

Water Laws

A proposal to rewrite Ecuador’s water laws, affecting how miners use the resource during mineral extraction, will probably be voted on by Congress next year, Pastor said.

Chile’s state-owned copper company Codelco, the world’s biggest producer of the metal, said today it may invest as much as $30 million over four years to explore for copper in Ecuador, according to an e-mailed statement distributed today.

Codelco will partner with Ecuador’s state-owned mining company Enami EP to seek reserves of the metal in six areas it has identified as “feasible,” the statement said. Exploration will begin next year, Codelco said.

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