Ecuador forms gas venture with Venezuela, Chile

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) -- Ecuador's state oil company has signed a deal to explore natural gas reserves with its Venezuelan and Chilean counterparts.

Energy Minster Galo Chiriboga says the state company will hold a 60 percent stake in the joint venture it formed with Venezuela's PDVSA and Chile's ENAP.

Chiriboga hopes natural gas production will help diversify Ecuador's energy output, which is now mostly oil.

Ecuador has been said to have about 334 million cubic meters of gas, mainly in the Gulf of Guayaquil along its southern Pacific coast. The country now produces about 535,000 barrels of oil a day and relies on diesel fuel to generate electricity.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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