Gulf has a long history with the expansion of Ecuador's crude oil export capacity. The original export pipeline system was constructed in the 1970s for PetroEcuador, the national oil company of Ecuador. Concession licensing agreements granted to the oil majors and independents in the following years led to increased production in the Oriente Basin and the capacity of the PetroEcuador pipeline was limited, leading to plans to expand the system by looping original pipeline; that is, paralleling the existing pipeline with a new pipeline. Political issues and environmental concerns frustrated the development of the expansion project. In 1994, Gulf was involved with a consortium of the producers, led by Occidental Petroleum that proposed a scheme for the expanded export system. Gulf performed conceptual and preliminary engineering for the scheme, developed cost estimates and played a major role in the preparation of the proposal to PetroEcuador. But the ever-changing political situation in Ecuador prevented the implementation of the proposal.
In 1999, Gulf was engaged by Occidental, again leading a consortium of Oriente Basin producers, to prepare the preliminary engineering and cost estimates for a new export system, which due to environmental concerns, would follow a different route as opposed to paralleling the PetroEcuador pipeline. Dubbed the Heavy Crude Pipeline (in Spanish, Oleoducto de CrudosPesados), the multi-billion dollar 30-inch diameter pipeline stretched for 500 kilometers, from the Oriente Basin in the Ecuadorean rainforest, over the Andes mountains to an export terminal on the Pacific coast. The export pipeline system required a receiving tank farm at its starting point in Lago Agrio, multiple pumping and pressure reducing stations to move the crude oil over the mountains, and a tank farm and marine loading line at its terminus on the coast at Esmeraldas. With the crude oil being "heavy", the pumping stations required heating facilities to heat the crude oil to improve its flow characteristics.
The development of the OCP pipeline, as the project came to be known from its Spanish language initials, continued to evolve and implementation was finally underway in early 2001. Techint constructed the OCP export system under an EPC agreement with the Occidental Petroleum led consortium, which formed an Ecuadorean company to own and operate the new pipeline system. OCP engaged Gulf to provide project and construction management specialists and to provide technical support to OCP. Gulf deployed 50 expatriate and South American personnel to Ecuador who performed project management functions and engineering and procurement support as well as contractual compliance inspections of the construction activities, and monitored and reported on the performance of the EPC contractor and the progress of the construction effort. Ecuador has one of the highest environmental profiles in South America after Brazil, Ecuador contains the largest portion of the Amazon rainforest. International attention from environmental activist groups and non-governmental organizations was continuous throughout the project and Gulf's construction management specialists strived to ensure the contractor performed unwaveringly in accordance with the project environmental protection plan.