QUITO, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Ecuador's state-run oil company Petroecuador said on Tuesday it is ready to advance discussions with 24 companies interested in supplying light crude to the Andean country.
The smallest OPEC member has said it wants to import crude for the first time in decades as light reserves are running out. The country primarily produces heavy crudes.
Ecuador is looking for foreign suppliers of around 30 million barrels of light crude to feed its renovated 110,000 barrel-per-day Esmeraldas refinery.
"If we reach an understanding convenient for Petroecuador, we are going to do it," Petroecuador's General Manager Carlos Pareja told reporters.
He confirmed meetings next week with companies that could submit offers of light crude, among which he highlighted Chile's ENAP.
A document seen by Reuters separately said that Petroecuador is interested in acquiring crude of 28 API degrees of density and up to 0.7 percent sulfur.
The purchases would cover 12 months of deliveries, representing a volume of some 82,000 barrels per day (bpd) and becoming Latin America's second-largest tender to buy crude, after Venezuela's proposal to import 75,000-150,000 bpd.
Petroecuador's intent is controversial in a country that has always been an exporter and is already suffering from low oil prices, reducing its dollar revenue.
However, Pareja defended his proposal noting that other countries such as Colombia are also looking for foreign suppliers of light crude. (Additional reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston; Writing by Girish Gupta in Caracas; Editing by Alan Crosby)