QUITO, Ecuador, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- It's time for the government of Ecuador to bring new investors to its oil and natural gas sector, a minister said in announcing a lease.
Consulting company IHS announced it was enlisted by the government of Ecuador to help coordinate a series of road shows for frontier blocks set for auction later this spring.
Wilson Pastor, the country's minister for non-renewable resources, explained the country needed to secure foreign investments in the energy sector.
"We are beginning a new era of exploration in Ecuador," he said in a statement. "We have not explored enough in the past 15 years, and it is time for Ecuador to attract new foreign investment to move our industry and country forward and to increase our reserves."
IHS estimates that 13 blocks set for auction, and surrounding areas, may contain more than 100 million barrels of oil.
Ecuador is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It's the fourth-largest supplier of crude oil to the United States among South American countries.
The U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration estimates that Ecuador produces about 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Most of that is designated for exports.