Quito, January 7 - Neftegaz.RU. Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno said that a special audit into $4.9 billion worth of oil-related infrastructure investment in the last decade reveals that about half of it was lost to corruption. Moreno said that an independent international audit found nearly $2.5 billion destined for works in 2 refineries, as well as construction of an oil terminal, 1 natural gas plant and 1 pipeline, was lost to corruption.
The investigation results come after a technical evaluation carried out by four European companies and one from the United States, tapped through bidding, with a total cost of $3.3 million, he said. The results are «shameful and scandalous,» he said.
In the biggest case, the auditing revealed that the Esmeraldas refinery saw upgrade works worth $2.23 billion, well above an initial $754 million budget, and that despite this the original problems that motivated the work remain. «»They tripled the budget and did not fix the refinery,» he said.
In a 2nd refinery upgrade involving Refineria del Pacifico, budgets reflected 23 % higher costs than would have been expected and there were conflicts of interest detected. In addition, most of the resources acquired with $1.5 billion destined for the project were «abandoned» after disagreements with Venezuelan PDVSA, a partner in the project.
In the case of the pipeline Poliducto Pascuales Cuenca, the project had an initial budget of $250 million but ended up costing $623 million. Besides that, there are serious engineering problems that could involve a collapse of the tubes and gas leaks.
As for the Maritime Terminal Monteverde, Ecuadoreans ended up paying $371 million compared with an original $250 million budget. Despite this, the support columns in the ocean were not protected against corrosion. Ecuador has recently had to spend an additional $210 million to fix that.
Finally, there was also $36 million in overruns related to construction of a natural gas plant in Bajo Alto, where $76 million was invested in infrastructure that operated at only 50 % capacity.