QUITO, Mar 10 (Reuters) – Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, appointed an oil industry expert as a new energy minister at a time when the country faces liquidity problems due to the variation in crude oil prices in the international market .
The appointment of René Ortiz, an oil analyst and consultant, was made through a presidential decree issued Monday night and replaces José Agusto, who resigned the day before arguing health problems.
Ortiz has already held the position of Minister of Petroleum in the government of former President Jamil Mahuad and was also secretary of OPEC. He has also held positions in the private oil sector during his extensive career.
Ecuador faces fiscal problems and high external indebtedness, so it seeks to raise its oil revenues, one of its main sources of permanent financing.
However, the collapse of oil prices on Monday is upset the plans of the Ecuadorian government, which has said it will take measures that would be announced on Tuesday.
Ortiz’s challenge with the Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources will be to increase oil production in the Andean country and boost the development of large-scale mining that has faced opposition from indigenous and environmental sectors.
Ecuador withdrew from OPEC at the beginning of the year in order to increase its oil production. The country produces about 540,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd).
(Report by Alexandra Valencia, edited by Gabriela Donoso)
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