Drilling to Begin in Ivanhoe Energy's Pungarayacu Field in Ecuador

QUITO, Ecuador, Dec. 10 /CNW/ - Robert Friedland, Executive Co-Chairman, President and CEO of Ivanhoe Energy Inc. (TSX: IE; NASDAQ: IVAN), and David Martin, Chairman, President and CEO of Ivanhoe Energy Latin America Inc., announced today that Ivanhoe Energy Ecuador Inc. intends to initiate drilling operations in the coming days on its first appraisal well in the Pungarayacu field in Ecuador.

This follows completion of final infrastructure preparations, including construction of a three-kilometre access road to the well-site. These works were carried out under the supervision of Ecuador's Ministry of the Environment.

The drill site, known as well IP-15, is located towards the north end of Ivanhoe Energy's Block 20, near the town of Archidona. The well is expected to be drilled to approximately 1,300 feet (400 metres), followed by an extensive coring, logging and testing program, which is slated to continue into January 2010. This testing program may include thermal testing and artificial lift techniques. This well is expected to confirm the nature of the reservoir and the characteristics of the oil, as well as proposed production methodologies.

Ecuador considers Pungarayacu to be the country's largest known, single accumulation of hydrocarbon resource. The project is based on the exploration and development of the 426-square-mile Block 20, located approximately 125 miles southeast of Quito. Block 20 contains the Pungarayacu heavy oil field, covering approximately 250 square miles that was discovered and partially delineated in the 1980s by Petroecuador. A Specific Service Contract between Ivanhoe Energy Ecuador and Petroecuador and Petroproduccion was signed on October 8, 2008, in a ceremony in Quito. The 30-year contract allows Ivanhoe Energy to explore, develop and produce oil throughout Block 20.

An independent study completed by Gaffney, Cline & Associates concluded that within the 250-square-mile delineated portion of the block, and within the formation of primary interest, the Hollin, there are 4.3 billion barrels (Low Case), 6.4 billion barrels (Mid Case) and 12.1 billion barrels (High Case) of oil originally in place.

Drilling and testing of the IP-15 well will be followed by drilling and testing of additional wells in different areas of Block 20, four of which are already permitted. Permitting for an additional 20 wells will begin in January 2010. The information gathered from these drilling operations will build on the information generated from the 26-well delineation drilling program carried out by Petroecuador in the 1980s.

The primary reservoir in Block 20 is a relatively shallow accumulation of oil in the Hollin formation. The Hollin is believed to contain heavy oil with API gravities ranging from 10 degrees to 16 degrees. The Gaffney, Cline & Associates evaluation of oil-in-place was limited to this formation. In addition to the Hollin, there is a shallower formation, the Napo, which is a major producing formation in other fields in the region. There also are deeper formations that have yet to be explored. Ivanhoe Energy Ecuador's development rights cover all of these formations, and provide the right to explore, develop and produce heavy oil as well as light oil.

Ivanhoe Energy Ecuador Inc., a Canadian company, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ivanhoe Energy Latin America Inc., the parent company of Ivanhoe Energy Inc.'s Latin America corporate group.

Ivanhoe Energy is an independent, international heavy-oil development and production company focused on pursuing long-term growth in its reserves and production using advanced technologies, including its proprietary, patented heavy-oil upgrading process (HTL(TM)). Core operations are in Canada, Ecuador, China and Mongolia, with business development opportunities worldwide. Ivanhoe Energy's shares trade on the NASDAQ Capital Market with the ticker symbol IVAN and on the Toronto Stock Exchange with the symbol IE.

For more information about Ivanhoe Energy Inc. please visit our web site at www.ivanhoeenergy.com

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS: This document includes forward-looking statements, including forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning the anticipated results of drilling and testing well IP-15, the drilling and testing of additional wells in different areas of Block 20 and other statements which are not historical facts. When use in this document, the words such as "could", "plan", "estimate", "anticipate", "intend", "may", "potential", "should", and similar expressions relating to matters that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements. Although Ivanhoe Energy and Ivanhoe Energy Ecuador believe that their expectations reflected in these forward-looking statements are reasonable, such statements involve risks and uncertainties and no assurance can be given that actual results will be consistent with these forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause actual result to differ from these forward-looking statements include the possibility that the company will be unable to raise financing, the potential that the projects will experience technological and mechanical problems, heavy oil samples from Block 20 may not have the product qualities anticipated, geological conditions in reservoirs may not result in commercial levels of oil and gas production, the availability of drilling rigs and other support services, the risk associates with doing business in foreign countries, environmental risks, changes in product prices, our availability to generate cash flow and raise capital as and when required, competition and other risks disclosed in Ivanhoe Energy's Annual Report on Form 10-K files with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on EDGAR and the Canadian Securities Commissions on SEDAR.

SOURCE Ivanhoe Energy Inc.

For further information: For further information: Investors Contact: Ian Barnett, (416) 792-3308; Dorreen Miller, (403) 269-2871; Media Contact: Bob Williamson, (604) 331-9880; Website: www.ivanhoeenergy.com

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