Ecuador’s energy ministry warned on Sunday that oil production had reached a “critical” level and could be completely halted within 48 hours if protests and roadblocks continued in the plague-stricken South American country. crisis.
Nearly two weeks of indigenous-led protests over rising fuel prices and the cost of living have brought transportation to a standstill in Ecuador, with roadblocks set up in 19 of the oil-rich country’s 24 provinces.
“Oil production is at a critical level,” the ministry said in a statement.
“If this situation continues, the country’s oil production will be suspended in less than 48 hours as vandalism, seizure of oil wells and road closures have prevented the transport of equipment and diesel necessary to maintain operations. “.
“Today the figures show a decrease of more than 50%” in production which, before the protests, was around 520,000 barrels a day, he said.
Ecuador’s economy is heavily dependent on oil revenues, with 65% of production exported in the first four months of 2022.
About 14,000 protesters are taking part in the nationwide demonstrations, most of them in Quito.
Shortages are already reported in the capital, where prices have soared.
The violence between police and demonstrators reportedly left five people dead, while some 500 people were injured, according to various sources.
Public-private economic losses from the protests totaled $500 million on Sunday, according to Production Minister Julio Jose Prado.
“Each additional day of downtime represents a loss of $40 million to $50 million,” he said.
Overall losses since the protests began include 8.5 million liters of milk worth $13 million, as well as $90 million in agricultural produce and livestock.
The tourism industry meanwhile has seen cancellations soar to 80%, with losses amounting to at least $50 million.
Additionally, “in the floriculture sector, 12 days of shutdown resulted in $30 million in losses and damage to trucks and farms,” Prado said.