Ecuador suspends oil exports amid tsunami threat

13:16, March 12, 2011      

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Ecuador said late Friday it had suspended crude oil exports of 342,000 barrels a day as long as a tsunami threat remains in place following the major 8.8-magnitude earthquake that devastated Japan earlier in the day.

Ecuador's official oil company said it had declared "force majeure" on all crude exports and notified foreign companies that buy Ecuadorian crude oil.

Marco Calvopia, head of the state oil company PetroEcuador, told reporters that all export operations had been stopped since the news of the earthquake broke. Shipments of fuel oil and liquid gas to Central America, as well as operators of the country's heavy crude pipeline by local company OCP were also temporarily suspended.

Ecuador's meteorological authorities expect the tsunami to hit the western-most part of the territory on the Galapagos islands about 5:30 p.m. local time Friday, while the waves are expected to reach the South American coast by 7:30 p.m. local time.

Petroleum is Ecuador's main source of exports and finances most of the Andean country's national budget.

Source: Xinhua

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