By Marco Aquino
LIMA, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Canada-based oil firm PetroTal Corp is hopeful to meet its plans to almost double crude production in Peru this year, despite protests by indigenous groups hitting a key pipeline in the country, the firm's general manager said on Friday.
Ronald Egusquiza told Reuters PetroTal was preparing to send its production down the Amazon River to Brazil for export, as it had done before in other conflicts, after protesters took over a pumping station of the state pipeline in Peru's Amazon region.
"For 2021 we expect to end with average production between 10,000 and 11,000 barrels of crude per day," Egusquiza said by telephone, a jump from 5,675 barrels per day last year.
"We have a whole investment program and we are betting on Peru," he said. PetroTal operates Lot 95 in the Amazon region of Loreto, one of the largest in the country.
Indigenous protesters took over a station of the state pipeline that transports oil from Loreto to the north coast of the South American country, demanding economic and social benefits for the communities in the region.
The government of leftist President Pedro Castillo has recently been in flux, with a major Cabinet reshuffle, which Egusquiza said has stalled the resolution of the conflict.
"I think that's been the main reason this situation has not yet been addressed directly," he said. "Exporting (through Brazil) allows us to maintain production, but eventually, if the pipeline does not open, it also affects production levels."
Egusquiza said that he is holding talks with the government to go to the protest zone soon to help solve the conflict. (Reporting by Marco Aquino; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Sandra Maler)