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.
GV PAN: Site at Charapa camp in Lago Agrio being cleared for oil drilling.
LV: Men working on unfinished drilling platform.
SV & CU: Men collecting pipes. (TWO SHOTS)
CU: Man tightening drilling gear.
SV: Man working machinery.
LV: Drilling platform being erected.
GV: Oil refinery in Lago Agrio.
SV & PAN: Maze of pipes. (TWO SHOTS)
SV: Engineers reading measuring instruments PAN UP TO large pipes.
LV: Engineers walking across pipes.
Crude oil production had declined since the peak year 1973 when 71 million barrels went overseas. In 1976, 62 million barrels were exported. Ecuador has a daily output of 210,000 barrels, about 85 percent of which is exported. As a result of the petrol boom, the gross national products had doubled in six years. In the first six months of 1976, for instance, its dollar reserves soared from 434 million to 750 million U.S. dollars. All internal commercial exploitation of petrol is handled by the state-run Corporacion Estatal Petrolera Ecuatorian (CEPE).
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Background: 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.