Since becoming an oil-producing nation in 1972, Ecuador has been able to sustain one of the highest continuing rates of growth in the southern hemisphere.
Since becoming an oil-producing nation in 1972, Ecuador has been able to sustain one of the highest continuing rates of growth in the southern hemisphere. Though ranking from oil fourth largest oil producer in Latin America, the income from oil has been responsible for transforming the nation's economy from one based on exporting coffee, cocoa and bananas, to the exportation of crude oil. The country's wealth has enabled the military government to raise the standard of living at every level of the community. Expenditure has soared on education, health, social services, defence and the modernisation and expansion of industry. However though the short term outlook is bright, economics now fear that unless new sources of petroleum are discovered, the present high growth rates should dwindle.
SYNOPSIS: It is at sites like Charpara Camp at Lago Agrio in the heart of the nation's Amazonian region that vital work is going ahead to find new oil resources to maintain the nation's economic growth.
Ecuador had proven oil reserves of 1,300 million barrels and potential reserves estimated at some 3,500 million more. This would be enough to continue out-put at present levels for 18 years. But domestic consumption is growing each year and could mean, unless new resources are found, drastic cuts in crude oil exports within a decade.
The main new fields, such as this one, are near the Equator and mean extensive clearing of jungle and resettlement of Indian tribes.
When discovered, the crude oil must be transported to the coast for export, or to refineries like this one, built near to Charapa.
The peak of exploration was in 1973 when 59 wells were drilled. This declined in subsequent years, but now exploration activity has been stepped up again. The work is vital to Ecuador's continued economic prosperity.