Ecuadorian Lasso appoints lawyer Santos as energy minister

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QUITO, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso on Monday appointed lawyer Fernando Santos as the country’s energy minister, the third person to hold the post since Lasso took office in May 2021 .

Santos, a veteran oil industry lawyer and former minister, succeeds Xavier Vera, who resigned on Friday amid an investigation into accusations he arranged jobs at state oil company Petroecuador in exchange for bribes -of-wine. Vera denies any wrongdoing. Read more

Santos has pledged to increase domestic oil production, a key objective of the Lasso administration, from current levels of 493,000 barrels per day (bpd).

“You, Mr. President, have set yourself the goal of increasing production and we are going to do everything we can,” Santos said during his swearing-in. “Today we have to extract (oil) difficult with scientific means and techniques that require capital and technology.”

“We need to use private companies with well-negotiated contracts with win-win conditions,” he added.

Lasso said he wants oil production to reach 750,000 bpd by the end of his term in 2025.

Santos previously served as the South American country’s energy minister in 1987 and a ministerial adviser in 2021. He also worked as head of legal affairs at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

There is a need to relocate pipelines in the country’s Amazon region, where erosion has caused oil spills, Santos said, and to improve refining work.

Santos said he agreed with the approval of a law on community consultation for extractive projects, one of the demands of anti-government protesters who hampered oil exports earlier this year, but that the contracts already signed must be respected.

“We need to make people realize that the benefits of mining development can be reciprocal for the people and the country in general,” he said.

Reporting by Alexandra Valencia Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Kim Coghill and Chris Reese

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