QUITO, June 27 — Ecuador’s energy ministry warned yesterday that oil production had reached a “critical” level and could be halted entirely within 48 hours if protests and roadblocks continue in the crisis-wracked South American country.

Nearly two weeks of Indigenous-led protests against rising fuel prices and living costs have crippled transportation in Ecuador, with roadblocks set up in 19 of the oil-rich country’s 24 provinces.

“Oil production is at a critical level,” the ministry said in a statement.

“If this situation continues, the country’s oil production will be suspended in less than 48 hours as vandalism, the seizure of oil wells and road closures have prevented the transport of equipment and diesel needed to keep operations going.”

Ecuador’s economy is highly dependent on oil revenues.

In the first four months of 2022, it pumped 481,000 barrels a day, of which 65 per cent were exported. The ongoing protests have led to a 20 per cent drop in oil output. — AFP