Ecuador has reached a preliminary agreement with a unit of Thailand's state-run PTT PCL to extend to 2024 the payment period of an oil-for-loan agreement that was originally planned to be fully paid through 2022, the South American country's energy minister said on Thursday. State-run oil company Petroecuador was expected to deliver up to 85 million barrels this year to PTT and PetroChina to amortize loans extended by the companies to the nation over the last decade. But making those deliveries would have made it difficult for Ecuador to fulfill other long-term commitments, minister Rene Ortiz told Reuters in an interview. The renegotiation with PTT, which has not yet been signed by the parties and is not expected to imply an adjustment of the loan's interest rate, would leave room for Petroecuador to refine a portion of the nation's oil output, export up to 10% through the spot market, and honor supply contracts with other customers, including Royal Dutch Shell and Phillips 66. If the proposed deal is signed this year, PTT and PetroChina would jointly receive up to 77 million barrels of Ecuadorian crude per year through 2024, Ortiz said. "(This) would ease our commitments and improve Petroecuador's capacity to sell directly to other buyers and fulfill spot sales according to (our) regulation," Ortiz added. Ecuador still has to deliver over 230 million barrels of oil to PTT and PetroChina to fully repay the loans. A similar refinancing agreement with PetroChina is not currently on the negotiating table, Ortiz said. The minister also said that Ecuador is not yet negotiating a reparation pact with trading firm Vitol after a unit of the company agreed to pay a total of $164 million to resolve an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department over bribes paid by executives to access contracts in Latin America. In Mexico, Vitol has offered to national oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) over $30 million in compensation. "At some point we'll have to reach a level of understanding between the parties... Each country has its own judicial rhythm," he said, adding that Vitol has remained out of Ecuador's oil tendering activity in the meantime. REUTERS
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