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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 10:57 GMT
Ecuador agreement in oil protests
Soldiers guard a street in Coca, Ecuador (file pic)
The demonstrations have hit two pipelines
The Ecuadorean government says it has reached an agreement to end unrest in an oil-rich province of the Amazon, which has disrupted oil exports.

Activists in the Napo province had been demanding a greater share of profits from Ecuador's hydrocarbon exports.

The government says protestors are scaling down actions, as the two sides discuss building more infrastructure and providing new jobs for the region.

Troops had been deployed after a state of emergency was declared on Wednesday.

Protests winding down

Violent demonstrations in Napo province had shut down a major pipeline of state-owned oil company Petroecuador on Monday, and another attack on a privately-run pipeline followed soon afterwards.

"We have reached an agreement and they have said they will stop their protests," Interior Minister Alfredo Castillo said.

"Now we will go ahead and negotiate their demands."

The government says the activists have agreed to a gradual suspension of protests, and hopes for a total end to unrest within the next two days.

On Tuesday, hundreds of demonstrators stormed the Sardina pumping station, 55 miles (90 km) east of Quito, forcing the closure of the private OCP pipeline, part overseas-owned.

They want the authorities to build roads, bridges and an airport in the region for the use of local people.

Exports resumed

Ecuador is the fifth-largest exporter of oil in Latin America, usually producing some 530,000 barrels each day.

The 300-mile (485km) OCP pipeline, owned by major foreign oil companies operating in Ecuador, has a capacity of 450,000 barrels per day (bpd), but at the time of the stoppage it was carrying 160,000 bpd.

Petroecuador managed to resume oil exports late on Tuesday after the action on Monday closed its pipeline.

Napo province congressman Jose Perez said the demonstrators had "agreed to stop the protest to avoid any more bloodshed".

On Wednesday reports said three people were injured when soldiers opened fire on one group of protesters.

Last year, a protest in the same region stopped Ecuador's daily exports of crude oil for two weeks.

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19 Jul 05 |  Country profiles

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