Natural resources, energy and environment
Ecuador has large oil resources on the coast and in the lowland forests of the east, and the country’s economy is heavily dependent on the income it provides. Natural gas is also available in the coastal region.
Oil has often accounted for over half of the country’s export revenues, but the share has fallen and was around 40 percent in 2018.
- COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Ecuador with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
Domestic energy supply is also largely managed with the help of oil, while hydropower accounts for almost a fifth. Electricity is produced mainly through hydropower but also in oil-fired power plants. Poor maintenance and uncertain water reserves due to changing climates have hampered plans to expand hydropower. Periods of drought can involve electricity rationing. There are no nuclear power plants.
Gold, silver, copper, antimony and zinc are also extracted. But mineral extraction is, in addition to the oil, relatively small. Mining has economic potential, but the resistance is largely due to environmental groups and indigenous peoples. In a 2018 referendum, residents said yes to a constitutional ban on metal extraction in protected zones and in urban environments.
What is mainly extracted today is those that can be used in the construction sector, such as limestone, sand and clay. A law from 2013 was intended to facilitate foreign investment in the mining sector, but high profit taxes as well as a sometimes whimsical policy still make investors hesitate.
- Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, EC stands for Ecuador. Visit itypeusa for more information about Ecuador.
The oil extraction in El Oriente, the low-lying area in the east, has since the beginning of the 1960s exposed the environment to severe stress. Large amounts of waste oil have run out into the rivers and into the soil, and the environmental degradation has had devastating effects on the poor indigenous population of the area. The inauguration in 2003 of the new pipeline OCP increased export capacity but at the same time created a new environmental threat, as the management goes through the sensitive Amazon area. Disputes have arisen between Ecuador and foreign oil companies, as Ecuador has demanded these for financial compensation for environmental degradation.
Forest harvesting in the provinces of Esmeraldas and Sucumbios in northern Ecuador has also caused severe environmental damage. A variety of tree species have been lost. Soil erosion (soil degradation) is another widespread problem. At the coast, mangrove forests have been cut down to give way to shrimp cultivation, which has become important for the economy.
In the Galápagos Islands, the unique species richness is threatened by growing tourism in association with overly intense fishing. After international pressure, Ecuador has expanded the protection zone around the islands to 40 nautical miles.
FACTS – ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
892 kilos of oil equivalents (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
1381 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
43 920 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
2.8 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
13.8 percent (2015)
Cooperation agreement with Russia
In his second visit to Moscow in four years, Presidents Correa and Vladimir Putin sign a series of agreements on cooperation in various fields. Among other things, Ecuador will receive Russian investments worth US $ 1.5 billion.
Correa against legalization of abortions
Several members of the government coalition want to decriminalize abortions in connection with a criminal justice review. The president calls them traitors and says he would rather resign than accept legalization of abortions.
New bids for oil recovery in national park
Correa issues a decree that paves the way for oil recovery in the Yasuní National Park, which means a total change of course in what has been one of his main commitments (see August 2010). Correa accuses the outside world of not supporting the government’s innovative proposal. He talks about unacceptable conditions and threats to national security. Correa criticizes “fundamentalist indigenous people” and urges the country’s young people not to be “manipulated” by the environmentalists. Correa says that the recovery should be done responsibly and that the revenue will be used to fight poverty and accelerate growth. In October, the National Assembly approves the decree.
Correa is reinstalled
24th of May
In connection with Correa’s swearing-in presidential speech, he emphasized in a speech that this is his last term in office and that someone else within the País Alliance must be able to take over by 2017.
Big win for Correa in the election
In the presidential election, Correa takes home the victory in the first round with 57 percent of the vote, against just under 23 percent for the second Guillermo Lasso. In the parliamentary elections held simultaneously, the ruling País alliance receives 52 percent of the vote, giving 100 out of 137 seats – an increase of 41 seats and more than two-thirds of the seats. Thus, País can change the constitution on its own.