Ecuador’s government is planning an additional investment of $180 million into the state-owned oil company Petroleos del Ecuador, or Petroecuador, to halt declining production levels, the Economy Minister Fausto Ortiz has said.

Without this investment, Petroecuador’s oil production will likely fall to 50 million barrels this year, down from the expected 60 million forecasted by the ministry, he said.

“We are complying with a commitment made by President Rafael Correa to deliver the necessary resources so that Petroecuador can adopt urgent measures to meet the goal of producing at least 60 million barrels”.

“The drop in oil production has a triple effect,” Ortiz said. “By resolving this problem, we seek to improve the general performance of the economy by the end of the year and establish a good start to 2008.”

Including production from private-sector oil companies, Ecuador will produce around 185 million barrels of crude per year, or around 505,000 barrels per day, down from 196 million barrels in 2006.