Ecuador and Colombia are both striving to attract new investment to their oil sectors, although the two Andean nations have a sharply differing contracting history.

EP Petroecuador is following up on a 29 November tax decree that will allow a return to the production-sharing contracts terminated by Ecuador's former president Rafael Correa a decade ago.

The state-run company is now tendering for international consultation services for a sweeping analysis of the regulatory model for oil and gas, while seeking recommendations for optimising hydrocarbon resources and aligned with international good practices.

The recent tax decree also opens the way for competitive bidding processes, whether for EP Petroecuador's assets or for open acreage.

The company's current contractors — some of which are oil companies — on 35 fee-paying contracts have been given 90 days to notify the company of intention to convert to PSCs and initiate negotiations.

Three such notifications have been received so far, according to Ecuador’s Energy Ministry.

Ecuador President Guillermo Lasso took office in May promising measures that would boost investment and double oil production to 1 million barrels per day.

Little has been done since then, due to the difficulties posed by the pandemic, and the administration is likely to fall short of its short-term aim of boosting output by 40,000 bpd by the end of 2021.

One of EP Petroecuador's projects on the table for 2022 is Amistad, an offshore gas field in the Gulf of Guayaquil.

Ecuador is also preparing the second Intracampos bid round for mid-2022, covering six blocks in the mature north-eastern oil provinces of Sucumbios and Orellana.

A competitive process for Sacha, a large mature field, is also expected.

Meanwhile, Colombia, which already has a strong track record for attracting investment, held its latest bid round last week, and Canada’s Parex Resources was in the thick of the action, making highest bids for 18 areas.

Fellow Canadians Canacol Energy and Frontera Energy also submitted winning bids, while Colombia’s own Ecopetrol and its Hocol subsidiary bid on five blocks.

“Today we received valid bids for 30 new areas out of the 53 on offer,” stated Colombian Energy Minister Diego Mesa, in a LinkedIn post soon after the event.