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 Oil and Gas in Latin America

On each topic, the articles are in chronological order.


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Gas Pipelines Around the World

The OilWatch Network Bulletin: Resistance No 33
October, 2002

Dear Friends,

Gas is being promoted as a clean fossil fuel and as an answer to the problem of the lack of energy for poor populations in the Third World. It is being promoted by various international organizations, including the World Bank, regional financial institutions, PNUMA, etc.

Although gas does generate less CO2 than other fossil fuels, it still cannot be considered as a clean source of energy. Extraction methods are similar to those of oil extraction in terms of waste generation, deforestation, impacts on local populations, pollution, etc. Besides gas is volatile and difficult to transport, therefore a “door-to-door” transportation method has been developed, by way of gas pipelines.

Many are of the opinion that gas is being promoted more than oil for geopolitical reasons rather than environmental reasons. Industrialized countries, who have no intention of lowering their levels of energy consumption, are looking at gas as a substitute for oil, so that they no longer have to depend on the Middle East for oil, and thus be able to maintain their industrial machine.

Calculations on gas reserves vary, but the most optimist calculations state that we can count on gas, at the actual rates of consumption, for 200 more years. The biggest reserves are located in Russia.

It has been attributed one of the reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union is due to transnational companies and the industrialized world wanting access to these reserves, something unthinkable under a socialist regime.

With gas being promoted as the new fuel of the future, we have entered an era of global mega-pipelines. As a result, a series of regional strategies have been the developed to fill the Third World of pipelines transporting gas.

The World Bank has financed projects based on fossil fuels (including gas) for US$ 20.8 Billion dollars in the last 10 years. Credit agencies for US export, ex – IM and OPIC have financed a total of US$23.2 Billion dollars, between 1992 and 1998. The role of these agencies is to promote US corporate exports and foreign investments. In order for this to happen, loans, guarantees and insurances are provided to companies from taxpayers' money.

In East Asia, Japan plans to lead the construction of gas pipelines joining Yakutsk with Australia, via Beijing, Tokyo, Okinawa, Taipei, Manila, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Jakarta.

In Southeast Asia 7.000 Km of gas pipelines will be built, starting from the Yadana and Yetagun fields in Burma, passing through Thailand and Malaysia, where gas will be integrated with the JDA development zone, and then through Indonesia to add to the East and West Natuna gas fields, and eventually joining the gas from the Camago and Malampaya fields in the Philippines. The idea is covering every ASEAN country.

A gas pipeline is being planned in Africa that will unite Nigeria with Algeria, crossing the Mediterranean and going into Europe. The West Africa Gas Pipeline will transport gas from Nigeria to Ghana, Togo and Benin. Crude oil from Chad will be exported through Cameroon, through a 1500 km oil pipeline, and in Sudan a 1560 km oil pipeline was constructed to export 250.000 oil barrels per day, bpd.

A multinodal integrated strategy is being planned for Latin America. It will include transport, energy, and telecommunications. The infrastructure not only includes gas and oil pipelines, but also interconnected electrical fiber optic lines, dry channels, hydro ways, biological corridors, etc. All this in order to supply energy to the North, or to fuel industries at the service of transnationals, in the South.

In South America, this integration is promoted by FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas, ALCA in Spanish) in what is called the “Initiative for the Integration of South American Regional Infrastructure”, backed up by the Inter-American Development Bank.

Several axis, or areas, have been developed for integration and development, which include:

. Mercosur (Sao Paulo-Montevideo-Buenos Aires-Valparaíso)
. Andino (Caracas-Bogotá-Quito-Lima-La Paz)
. Interoceánico (Brasil-Bolivia-Perú-Chile- Sao Paulo-Campo Grande-Santa Cruz- La Paz-Ilo-Matarani-Arica-Iquique)
. Venezuela (Brasil-Guyana-Suriname)
. Multinodal Orinoco, Amazonas, La Plata
. Multinodal of Amazonas (Brasil-Colombia-Ecuador-Perú)
. Marítimo Atlántico
. Marítimo del Pacífico
. Neuquén ­ Concepción
. Porto Alegre ­ Jujuy ­ Antofagasta
. Bolivia ­ Paraguay ­ Brasil
. Perú ­ Brasil (Acre Rondonia)

This strategy is being developed in Mesoamerica through “Plan Puebla Panama”, a plan for the construction of integrated corridors, similar to those in South America. More sweat shops will be installed in these corridors where U.S. and Asian merchandise will be assembled and then quickly sent in bulk through dry routes and hydro ways to the world market.

Part of “Plan Puebla Panama” includes the construction of the Mesoamerican gas pipeline, starting in the city of PEMEX in Tabasco and running through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

In spite of all of the energy infrastructure investments in the Third World, the access of the poor to energy has not increased.

In this bulletin we would like to share with you a series of information related to gas and gas pipelines.

Warm Regards,

OilWatch International Secretariat


Norandino Gas pipeline, a time bomb

Source: Interpress Service, Marcela Valente BUENOS AIRES, May 2002

An indigenous woman interrupted the assembly of shareholders of a Belgium company in Brussels in 1998, in protest of the construction of a gas duct in northeast Argentina. The same woman alerted by radio this month the fire caused by flaws in the construction. The sources of the fire occurred in three parts of the province of Salta, in the Yungas jungle, which the Norandino gas duct crosses. A Belgian and Argentine company built the duct in order to distribute energy throughout the north of Chile.

The ducts ruptured because of strong rains, and the escaped gas ignited the fires. ’The populations living in the area saw a blaze in the night and advised the hospital and the fire department. The following day a member of the community came down from the mountains at the edge of the San Andrés River to request that the company be advised’, said Serafina Sánchez, the person in charge of the community radio, in the satellite district of Ortón. Sánchez is president of the organization Tincu Nacu, which means ‘meeting place’. From her headquarters she manages the radio and administrates the money the gas duct builders have given in exchange for ‘permission’ to ! cross the Yungas jungle. The jungle, whose name means ‘abundance’ in the colla language, covers some three million hectares in northeast Argentina and in the south of Bolivia. In Argentina, the provinces of Jujuy, Salta, Catarmarca and Tucumán are included.

The most biodiversity is found in the Salta monta-osa zone. ’The Yungas ecosystem is the second with the most biodiversity in the country after the jungle in the northeast’, explained Emiliano Ezcurra of Greenpeace. Here we find a biological corridor which is a critical conservation area in the son and which is crossed by the gas duct.

The project had caused strong opposition in 1998, in Greenpeace as well as in the colla residents represented by Tincu Nacu, and particularly by Sánchez. The community, which years ago cried out for the right to own these lands, is made up of 350 families in the high mountain area. Environmentalists recommended a rerouting of the gas duct from the biological corridor or suspending the entire construction. But the consortium, made up of Techint from Argentina and the Belgium firm Tractebel considered that going though Yungas would cut the route short and save on costs.

This is how a polemic situation began. Greenpeace and the Fundación Vida Silvestre maintain that the Yungas houses the one of the only two families of jaguars, a species with only 200 living specimens. There are also a wide variety of toucans, monkeys, frogs, pumas and insects. The Fundación assures that 60 percent of the birds that inhabit Argentina are concentrated there, and that, according to a study done by the German Cooperation Ministry with data from 1993, ‘in just one tree in Yungas you can find more ant variety than in one country in Europe’.

Environmental experts as well as indigenous people warn about the alterations that the ecosystem could suffer due to constructions that require intensive clear-cutting. In fact, the fires produced this month are due to such causes. ’When the jungle is deforested, the soil is left in a very fragile state and is prone to mudslides due to rain and the rising San Andrés river’, explained Oscar Soria from Greenpeace to IPS. Proof of this is that when it rains, the gas duct rises to the surface even though it is buried three feet under the soil. Three months ago Tincu Nacu filmed pieces of the gas duct that had risen to ! the surface because of the water washing away the earth that covers it. This month, because of the strong rains, the river rose producing the above mentioned effects in three sites.

Cuesta Chica, Cuevas and Trancas were the three zones that had leaks that initiated the fires, that did not cause great damage because of the humid climate at this time of the year, and because the valves automatically closed when the fire started. ’We always said that this was not an adequate or appropriate area for this construction. The river is very big and we know from centuries ago that it produces flooding. Because of this we tried to get the gas duct rerouted, even though it would sacrifice part of the jungle’, remarked Sánchez.

The consortium avoided recognizing the fire, until Greenpeace –alerted by Tincu Nacu—gave out the information. ‘We had warned them that their environmental impact program did no contemplate effective emergency measures for such a difficult access zone’, said Soria. Now, the installations in Mejillones and Tocopilla, in the mining area in the north of Chile are without gas because of the fires. Engineers from Norandino recognized that the repair could be delayed due to difficulties in accessing the area, located in a 30-meter deep ravine. The fact that the fire broke loose in a large hole impeded its spreading. But the people of the area are scared. ‘It is like living in a time bomb’, explained Sánchez. There are people living only 500 meters from the spot where the fire is and they do not sleep at night.

In 1998, Greenpeace had settled the payment of two plots from the Belgian company Tractebel in the name of the Tincu Nacu president, who appeared at a company assembly in Brussels and, with the assistance of a translator, stood by her complaints regarding the environmental impacts caused by the gas duct.

Sánchez said then that the shareholders at Tractebel, that Techint had offered them 350.000 dollars to waive their claim. Finally, they accepted the money. ’When we saw that there would be a gas duct with or without our support, we decided to sign an agreement in which the community is granted the money if the gas duct passes through our land. We also signed a clause for extraordinary payment on any damages’, Sánchez indicated.

The money has not yet been used in work to improve quality of life in the community. ’We have it deposited for the long term because we still have not defined what use we want to give to it, and we have not had much experience with managing so much money’.

Meanwhile, the gas duct, which was finished in 1999, has been an absolute headache for the local population. Sánchez feels tricked; ‘They told us they would work with the latest technology and with all of the security measures necessary, but look at what happened with just a bit of strong rain; the jungle almost went up in flames’.


From Oilwatch Resistance Bulletin #38, May 2003

By Antonio Brailovsky

We are all used to see on TV diverse species of birds covered of oil.  Penguins, seagulls, and cormorants with their black wings and muddy beak are images that have went all over the world and now are a symbol of pollution.  Much less though is known of human beings covered by oil, victims of the same negligence.

When talking about human rights, we must remember that in any society in which people do not have access to housing, work, education or health; is the same people that can’t breathe clean air, drink potable water, and live on top of polluted soils.

Let me tell you a story.  We just came back from a trip to Neuquen province, a spot in the huge Patagonia desert.  We then toured the oil and gas field Loma de la Lata, the country’s most important, in charge of the Spaniard Repsol company, the current owner of YPF.  During its long process under the state’s administration, YPF was conceived as a company that promoted the regional development, as a way to compensate the damages caused by its field activities.  Nowadays, the only role played by YPF is extracting hydrocarbons and take the profits overseas, given that its owners have no obligation to reinvest these in the country, much less to compensate the caused damages.  The environmental consequences of this mining activity are so deep, that are difficult to imagine.

The landscape is oppressive.  In the dry Patagonia plateau appear, as toys dispersed by a giant, the extraction oil pumps, the “oil storks” as called by the poet Armando Tejada Gómez.  The landscape is wounded by roads and punctures, and ploughed by pipes in every direction.  Every now and then, a huge burner flares the remaining gas:  “They didn’t use to burn them before.  Not long ago, we used to live all the time with those gas smells,” the guide tells us.

In that place, Repsol-YPF company explores the mining resources in the same place two Mapuche communities live.  Mapuche means “people of the earth”; for them, life is unthinkable away from their ancestral land.  Therefore there is no point in buying it from them, and sending them somewhere else.  “Man belongs to the earth,” says the chief of Mapuche communities, and sounds really awkward, to hear a real Indian cite the words of an apocryphal Indian, made up by a Hollywood script-writer and worldwide spread by the United Nations.

The company claims that subsoil waters are not polluted, but the residents claim suffering diseases induced by drinking from a subsoil stream to which the oil drilling purge waters filtered.  Today these residents have lead and mercury in their blood, and, after a trial, the company must provide potable bottled water.  However, with what water should they bathe?  What will their dying animals drink?  I just saw little goats die, born with malformations.  Maybe the explanation lies in the streams: water is thick and water plants have oily edges.

“How do you explain the animals, and tell them not to drink from the streams?” one Mapuche asks me.  In the technical report consulting these communities, some references appear regarding congenital malformations in domestic animals and also the fear that this also occurs with human beings: “this has been told to women, that they can’t have a family, we have seen it in animals,” says one of the testimonies.  “Animals have been affected, born bald we do not know if they are goats or mice, or kangaroo-looking animals.  The loss was so great last year, so many goats died… animals without head came out, with two ears and without the head; mere little ears, that is what is being seen these days.”

“More fear with women.  If animals come out with this defect, what can we expect for people,” another testimony says.  “This is something terrible that neither a father, nor a mother can endure.  That is why men and women have to be careful.  The new problem is that children will become men and women, and we don’t know if they will be able to have children themselves.”

An oil spill first appears as a spot on the ground, a substance similar to black mud that spreads along the ground.  At the beginning the horizontal speed is greater that the vertical, the spot expands first and, later, slowly, it absorbs itself.  The pollutant’s distribution depends on the type of soil and the terrain’s ups and downs.  We can’t see what happens under the ground, but the plants feel it and show it to us.

There are plants that extend their roots until reaching the freatic layer (this means, the first layer of subsoil water).  These are called “freatophytes”.  These plants go down their way through the soil until, instead of water, they find oil.  At that time they die poisoned and they stay dry in their place.  The spot of dry weeds at the surface has the exact same shape of the underground oil spill.

Not long ago, the company claimed that underground water was not polluted.  We scour the area; every now and then, some pipes allow us to reach the underground water and analyze it.  One Indian throws a small cup with a chain inside.  We hear a splash in the bottom, and later we see dark water.  “Do you think this is potable?” he asks.  “The company always claimed it is.  Let’s see.”  He spills some dark water on top of a stone, he brings a lit match near, and the water flares into a high column of fire.

Further beyond, the oil pools have been covered with dirt instead of being drained or closed, and in any place there is so much oil that the soil itself can burn up in flames.

Following a trial placed by the victims, a running water distribution plant has recently been built.  Water is provided by a nearby river, which is also suspected to be polluted.  The Mapuche counsellors review the plant’s drafts, and find out there is no planned procedure to clean up water from the possible presence of hydrocarbons, only an elemental supply of chlorine.  This deepens the risks, given that the chlorine hydrocarbon compounds are even more dangerous that hydrocarbons themselves.  Leaders of the affected communities tell me that they refuse to drink some water that does not offer minimum guarantees for consumption.

When the oil spill isn’t in Galicia but in Rio Neuquén, it doesn’t reach the media.

Non Indian population haven’t been better treated by the company.  Not far away from the borders of the explored area, we find Añelo community, a small town lost in the desert.  The greater part of its inhabitants complains from strong joint pains.  Añelo has a city water tank that distributes the liquid untreated.

We are in the house of a town family.  In the bathroom’s water deposit, the water smells like hydrocarbons.  In the toilet margins the water has left a black and muddy residue.  “We cleaned it up a couple of months ago,” says the house owner, who has similar residues in his organism.  “The months we can afford bottled water we feel a little better,” he adds, “but we already have the pollution in our bodies.”  These neighbours have been threatened by denouncing the state of water, threats that have also extended to the pharmaceuticals that examined it.

In every part of the world, oil exploration produces environmental disasters, but in very few places of the world such great abuses have been tolerated as in Neuquén.  Is because the victims are poor or Indians that nobody cares?  Or maybe this negligence is expressing the decadence of a political system at the service of international companies?

A great hug to everybody.

Antonio Elio Brailovsky
Assistant Ombudsman of the City of Buenos Aires

If you want more information regarding the situation of the Mapuche people and Repsol-YPF oil company, please visit this website:


Enron Keeps Role in Bolivia Pipeline Project
Criticism Grows -- Records Missing

Jimmy Langman, Chronicle Foreign Service
Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Despite Enron Corp.'s financial collapse in the United States, the Houston energy giant is alive and well in Bolivia, where it continues to play a major and highly controversial role in the nation's burgeoning natural gas industry.

Enron owns 40 percent of the Bolivian portion of a gas pipeline completed in 1999 that earns an estimated $42 million a year and supplies natural gas to an Enron thermal electric plant in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. It also has a 50 percent stake -- along with Shell Oil -- in a hydrocarbons transport company responsible for the nation's pipelines called Transredes.

These overseas ventures are not part of the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and are major ingredients of its reorganization plan. But Enron's financial implosion has spurred a Bolivian congressional panel to investigate the firm.

The commission is focusing its probe on alleged corrupt dealings between the company and the government of President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, which was in power from 1993 to 1997. They are also looking at reports of ecological destruction and complaints by indigenous communities in the Chiquitano Dry Forest of eastern Bolivia, through which the gas pipeline passes.

‘I think there were surely unethical dealings,’ said Armando de la Parra, the legislator who heads the congressional committee. ‘The process by which Enron was selected for the pipeline was clearly unfair.’

The Bolivia-Brazil pipeline is a $2 billion project considered to be key to this nation's future economic growth. International banks, however, were reticent to finance the Bolivian portion because of Bolivia's high foreign debt, which forced the government to seek a corporate partner.

De la Parra, a member of the Movement of the Revolutionary Left party, says the five companies that competed with Enron were given just 13 days notice to make their pitch for the pipeline contract. Enron, on the other hand, had been in contact with the Sánchez de Lozada administration for four months prior to winning what executives call a ‘beauty contest.’ There was no bidding process, only formal company presentations.

De la Parra says the eventual contract signed in 1994 was illegal in Bolivia because it was enacted under New York state law, allowing Enron to register as an international offshore company free of Bolivian laws and taxation.

‘Explain the benefits of that for Bolivia,’ said de la Parra.

Enron spokesman Keith Micelli said the congressional inquiry is merely a ploy to influence Bolivia's June 30 presidential election, in which Sánchez de Lozada is running. ‘Even the Bolivian newspapers have pointed out that because Sánchez de Lozada is a candidate, they have politicized the issue,’ Micelli said.

The former president, who is chairman of the board of the Toronto-based Orvana Minerals Corp., has likened the congressional probe to a witch hunt. ‘They are obviously hoping to find some skullduggery between me and Enron,’ he said. ‘But I think people are generally satisfied that there wasn't.’

The investigation has provided mudslinging material for several candidates, especially after Orvana filed plans to build a spin-off pipeline to power a gold mining plant in the Chiquitano forest.

In a televised debate, Jorge Richter, a congressional candidate of the New Republican Force party, alleged that he had documents proving that Enron paid a $2.5 million bribe in 1994 to officials of the state-owned oil and gas company, known as YPFB, to influence the privatization process.

The original contract between Enron and the government is missing, and only one photocopy exists.

Enron also never delivered on its agreement to donate $10 million for rural electrification projects or raised needed funding for the pipeline's construction. So, after two years, impatient, energy-starved Brazil bankrolled the entire project. Nevertheless, the Bolivian government allowed Enron to maintain 40 percent ownership of the pipeline.

In recent questioning by the congressional panel, Mauricio Gonzalez, Sánchez de Lozada's former energy minister, argued that Enron retained its 40 percent stake because it had already invested $22 million in the pipeline's general planning. De la Parra says his committee has found no record of any such investment.

Since its arrival in Bolivia in 1994, Enron has been a source of controversy.

When news spread that the government was about to grant Enron a majority ownership in the pipeline, the army was called in to protect oil refineries and natural gas facilities. The government feared sabotage by state gas workers, who were concerned about losing their jobs and giving away a key national resource to a foreign firm.

In 2000, hundreds of indigenous protesters blocked access to three Enron construction camps for 16 days after Enron failed to deliver promised land titles as part of a compensation package for allowing the pipeline to be built through Indian territory.

The conflict with the Chiquitano and Ayoreo indigenous communities, who number some 58,000 inhabitants and have historical land claims of some 37 percent of the Chiquitano forest, was finally resolved through negotiations.

Indigenous leaders, however, say Enron still has not given them land deeds. ‘They made their pipeline and then violated their word,’ said Carlos Cuasace, president of the Chiquitano Indigenous Organization.

Environmentalists also say their worst fears about the 6 million-acre Chiquitano Dry Forest -- South America's largest remaining undeveloped dry tropical forest - - are coming true.

It is a region with 90 endangered species, including the giant anteater, black howler monkey and jaguar, and is ‘one of the richest, rarest and most biologically outstanding habitats on Earth,’ according to the World Wildlife Fund, or WWF.

Patricia Caffrey, former director of WWF-Bolivia, says recent environmental destruction by loggers, cattle and hunters has been a result of new service roads, which were built in violation of Enron's environmental management plan.

The U.S. Senate is investigating whether the Overseas Private Investment Corp., a U.S. government agency that helps finance projects in developing countries, approved financing for the pipeline project in violation of its own policies. Under a 1997 Clinton administration directive, OPIC is prohibited from financing ‘infrastructure projects in primary tropical rain forests.’

Laine Powell, director of Enron's pipeline project, denies his company has damaged the fragile ecosystem in Chiquitano. ‘We didn't build any roads,’ Powell said. ‘What we did was improve the roads already there.’ Powell says that despite the controversies and bankruptcy, Enron intends to honor its obligations.

‘We have made commitments, we have met commitments,’ he said. ‘We plan to continue meeting those commitments.’


From Oilwatch Resistance Bulletin #38, May 2003

Therefore the government had to give in facing pressure from Indigenous Organisations, Province Civic Committees, the Ombudsman Office, and National and International NGOs.

The first phase of the Environmental Audit of the Cuiaba Lateral Gas Pipeline (Bolivia-Brazil) demanded by indigenous communities of the Chiquitano and Ayoreo peoples one year ago, started today in San José de Chiquitos, where a strong delegation of Inspectors from the Viceministry of Sustainable Development arrived, headed by Cristina Orellana, Director of the Environment Unit, who are in charge of verifying the received denounces by the affected communities on the incompliance of the Environmental Impact Assessment Study (EIA).

A group of indigenous environmental promoters and civic leaders of the area, supported by Non Government Organizations, joined by the National Deputy, Isaac Avalos, made the official presentation of an independent follow up study document, that backs up their denounces.  These not only include the companies’ incompliance with the reforestation plan, the indigenous development plan and the un-repaired destruction of the natural life habitat and water sources essential for the indigenous communities; but it also includes the violation to the indigenous human rights by ENRON and SHELL multinationals, jointly with State offices, that haven’t enforced Law 1257 (Agreement 169 ILO) by promoting the creation of the alleged Foundation for the Conservation of the Dry Chiquitano Forest (FCBC) not allowing the participation of the affected indigenous populations in the conservation of the natural resources in the territories of their own.

The controversial ENRON and SHELL foundation has been accused of exerting its influences when scientists from several international conservation institutions, that initially claimed for a deviation of the gas pipeline route in order to avoid damages to the pristine Chiquitanian forest (considered among the 200 best preserved in the world), changed their minds in exchange for a $20 Million USD gratification, granted by the oil companies for an alleged conservation forest plan that never worked.  The ambiguity of the conservation plan made the relationships between the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the oil multinationals come to an end.  In year 2001 national media disclosed the fact that members of the FCBC were involved in biopiracy by exporting, unauthorized, genetic material of the “wild peanut” native to the Chiquitano forest.

In May, 2002 an investigative commission of the Bolivian National Parliament found that ENRON had created a second “ghost foundation” used by its officials to buy stocks of the Cuiaba gas pipeline, and fictitiously raise the projects’ costs to make huge profits by ripping off the stock holders.  The US credit agency OPIC withdrew all its support to this project in the middle of the shocking ENRON bankruptcy, whose proven fraud reaches $2.5 Billion USD.  Months later, the Bolivian Ministry of Sustainable Development admonished ENRON-SHELL’s Foundation because of incompliance of the Environment Law, but in an unclear fashion, the Bolivian government has avoided to apply the corresponding economic sanctions, while ENRON is still Bolivia’s major partner for gas exports to Brazil.

The “affaire” of the Cuiaba gas pipeline became notorious again in November, 2002 when during a visit of recently elected Bolivian President Sánchez de Lozada to Washington DC, indigenous parliament members along with environmental organisations denounced the finding of a valve that had been built -in secret- by both multinationals to supply gas to “Don Mario Mine”, of Orvana Minerals, a company whose major stockholder is Sanchez de Lozada.  The construction of a private exclusive gas pipeline for the president’s mine that wasn’t part of the EIA, was also discovered, “these crime findings should lead to ENRON’s expulsion from Bolivia” said the Parliament Member Isaac Avalos.  “Now we expect the irregularities to be clearly identified, the verification of social and environmental impacts, and precise recommendations to be included to repair all damages caused to the 31 affected indigenous communities, and mitigate the destruction to the Chiquitano Forest ecosystems and the Bolivian Wetland,” he concluded.

The Environmental Audit process, that begins with the in situ denounce inspection of social and environmental impacts is the first in Bolivian history, given that the law on environment is not specific regarding social impacts, nor the violation of indigenous rights.  Therefore an integrated and multidisciplinary approach is required, and its evaluation could set an important precedent for a better regulation of the execution of hydrocarbon projects in indigenous lands.  “A worrying aspect of the current stage is that the State officers in charge of the inspection, supposed to be at the service of law and public interest, are guests of multinational companies, which are apparently covering all the expenses required by this field work.  As long as this dependence exists nothing can be transparent,” said José Bailaba, Chiquitano indigenous parliamentary.

The inspection visits are programmed to occur between April 15th and 26th and take place at the same time an intense national debate occurs regarding the possible construction of a new pipeline to the Pacific Ocean, to allow the exportation of Bolivian gas to the United States, a project that is providing serious frictions between Sanchez de Lozada’s government and several opposing sectors, even among the armed forces.  Recent surveys reveal that the majority of Bolivians thinks that the current conditions of gas pipelines for export only benefit multinational companies and not the country.  The perversity of the Environmental Audit of the Cuiaba gas pipeline, is that we could be about to prove that as long ENRON and SHELL expect profits for the coming 40 years, the Bolivians could only assume to take care of the environmental destruction and the growth of poverty in the affected communities.

Source: Jorge Cortes



The V Seminar on Natural Gas from Urucú took place on the 10th, 11th and 12th of October in city of Manaus, in the Brazilian Amazon. The Seminar focused on the social and environmental impacts resulting from the construction of a gas pipeline that would unite the gas fields in the city of Porto Velho, capital of the state of Rondonia, for electricity generation.

In relation to this gas pipeline, one of the participants expressed that “the gas pipeline is one of the many negative projects in the Amazon. We need to say ENOUGH of these projects.”

The Oil Project

The following components are part of the project:

1. Polyduct Urucú ­ Coarí to transport crude and LNG
2. Urucú - Coarí Gas Pipeline (to transport LNG)
3. Solimoes Terminal in Coarí for crude and LNG storage
4. Expansion of extraction capacity in Urucú extraction area (Pólo Arara)
5. Gas Pipeline Urucú ­ Porto Velho (500 Km)
6. Gas Pipeline Coarí ­ Manaus
7. Porto Velho Hydro Center
8. Manaus Hydro Center
9. High tension lines between Porto Velho and Río Branco

The oil producing province of Urucú has an extension of 65 km East to West, and 20 km North to South, and borders the oil producing province of Jurúa. Its reserves total 43.700 b/d in a 5-year projection, and 6 million m3 d/day of gas, for 44 years.

For the drilling of 56 wells, 45.4 km of paved roads have been built and 44 km of unpaved, as well as 3 sea ports: Urucú, Hélio and Evandro (where provisional boats dock), in the middle of the Amazon.

At the moment 17.926 b/d of oil are produced; this rate has been steady since 1996. In 1998, the production was at 1.693.00 m3/d. Crude oil and GLP are transported by barge to the refinery at Isaac Sabbá (REMAN) in Manaus.

Impacts That Have Already Been Generated

In the first phases of the project, including well drilling, construction of the polyduct and the gas pipeline for the transport of hydrocarbons to the terminal at Coarí, several impacts have been registered such as the following: decrease in fish stock, which is the essential base for the survival of river populations. Of a regular average production of 20.000 tons of fish, impacted zones now only produce 5.000 tons.

Other zones that are affected are those that extract chestnuts, an important source of income for communities. Along the path of the pipeline, Petrobrás has cut down many chestnut trees on the properties of different farms. A Coarí peasant denounced the gas pipeline for causing the decrease in production and collection of chestnuts, decreasing production from 75 hectoliters to 25 hectoliters, because the company cut down the most productive trees. In another farm, production decreased by half. Petrobras attempted to compensate the loss by paying 4 Reais per hectare.

“Water flour” production was also affected, which is the main product for local consumption and local trading. In the Urucú river area water flour is the only production. Cassava is put into canoes for 10 – 14 days to produce the flour. But the canoes were disturbed and were overturned by the waves caused by the company’s boats used for construction, and the cassava rotted. In the long term, what impact will the river pollution have, as a result of hydrocarbon activities, on water flour production?

Turtle populations were also affected. Petrobras workers collected their eggs, and even though the local population tried to stop them, they continued to collect them illegally.

The noise levels made hunting prey disappear. In addition, with the construction of the road, outsiders have arrived and illegal hunting has increased in the area. Thousands of trees were cut down for the road construction. The area of Humaitá is one of the most affected zones.

In the oil fields the associated gas is flared because oil is the main development.

Social and political impacts have also been registered. For example, the construction of the gas pipeline generated division and a disruption process among communities. In Coarí the number of prostitutes and the rates of violence have risen related to the facility. The local population has been used for the sale of alcohol, and two AIDS cases have been registered. Malaria and other diseases have increased due to dams and deforestation.

Gas Pipeline Impacts

The Urucú - Porto Velho gas pipeline will affect 13 indigenous populations and 10 indigenous areas, such as the Palmari, Apuriná, Katukina, Juma, Cunirá Takutina, and a population not yet contacted, the Isolated of Jacareúba. In many cases, the indigenous territories are not yet demarcated, which means even more conflicts with the company, because their rights will not be recognized. Brazil recently signed ILO Agreement 169, but there is no secondary legislation for its application, and the indigenous populations have not yet assimilated this Agreement as their own.

The gas pipeline will affect the municipalities of Coarí, Tapauá, Canutana, Humaitá and Lábreas, where more than 90% of the population is indigenous.

From an environmental point of view, the Urucú-Porto Velho pipeline will run through primary Amazon forest, as well as 160 rivers, including the Solimoes (Amazonas) River, and the Negro and Purús rivers, as well as lakes that are of great importance, such as Lake Coarí. It is important to state there does not exist any prior experience to constructing pipelines of this type, especially taking into consideration these are the most copious rivers in the world.

Regarding the generation plant, it will require as much water as the total use of water for domestic purposes of the whole population of Porto Velho.

Energy Generation

The gas from Urucu will be used for the generation of energy for the capital of the State of Rondonia, not to provide electricity to local populations, that along Amazonian rivers do not have any electricity. 90 per cent of the State of Amazonas does not have electrical energy. The Brazilian state has claimed its inability to invest in energy generation due to inefficiency, this sector was then opened to foreign investment. An independent producer is created, made up by CS Participacao, a capital group from Bahiano, and the American company, “El Paso”.

The State has the obligation to buy energy from this producer. The independent producer sells electricity at 150 Reais per MW/H and Electronorte (the State Company) sells electricity at 50 Reais MW/h. The 75% loss is absorbed by the public through the CCC (National Compensation Account).

“El Paso” owns 40% of the 280 million dollar project. With this project, the independent producer will be the largest in Brazil. The company is also the owner of 4 electrical plants in Manaus and provides 76% of the energy in the city. It will also provide 480 MW to Araucária in Paraná and in the formation of a joint venture with General Electric for the generation of 2000 MW of energy in Sao Paulo city. “El Paso” is also involved in the construction of the Urucú – Porto Velho gas pipeline, and is also an investor in the Bolivia – Brazil gas pipeline. This is the company that created the artificial energy shortage in California so that it could raise prices.

There is fear that electricity will begin to be managed following market logic and not service, therefore consumers will not benefit. In addition, private investment will not accept responsibility in case of an energy shortage. The company has a contract for 20 years, and has already recuperated its investment in two years.

Consultative Process and the Previous License

After the elaboration of the Environmental Impact Assessment, Petrobras called for a Public Audience in four Amazon cities. The first critique was the lack of spreading of the process, and the lack of knowledge that the local population had regarding the project. Many of the participants were not familiar with the EIA. In addition, the most affected and isolated populations did not participate.

During the Public Audiences the population presented a series of critiques to the study, including for example the fact that the question of indigenous populations was not sufficiently covered, especially in relation to groups that have not had contact with the outside world.

In addition, the study does not analyze alternatives to the pipeline. Petrobras did not answer any questions, nor did they explain the impacts that the project would have on local populations. Many people left the meetings feeling that this was a project that will provide jobs, for others, the consultation was felt only as part of a ritual.

However, the population did ask for the elaboration of a new EIA because of the first one being incomplete. Despite this, IBAMA granted an environmental license for the construction of the pipeline.

During the meeting in Manaus, the Minister of the Environment, Carlos Carvalho, explained that the license was part of the process and it is only of technical nature. He promised to establish a high-level commission for dialogue between Petrobras officials and community leaders, in order for community interests to be attended, and to discuss the protection of the environment, but also to present and explain national interests.

He ended saying as much as the Amazon belongs to all Brazilians, so does Petrobras.

Brazil is at the point of switching governments. We are waiting to see what political changes occur in the country, and how these changes will affect the decisions regarding the Urucú – Port Velho gas pipeline.

Sources: Urucú. Dieter Gawora. 2002.
Web site: El Paso.
Testimonies from participants in the V Seminary on gas in Urucú.

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Environmental Efforts Can't Curb Social Impact of Amazon Pipeline

By Mario Osava, Interpress Service

MANAUS, Brazil, Jun 6 2005 (IPS) - While Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras has taken great pains to limit the environmental impact of gas pipelines in the Amazon region, it has proven more difficult to curb the social repercussions of large-scale projects in the midst of dire poverty.

The discovery in 1986 of natural gas in Urucú, in the heart of the Amazon jungle, was considered a potential boon for both the economy and the environment, since it would stimulate local industries while providing a cleaner, less costly replacement for the diesel fuel brought in from southeastern Brazil or shipped in from abroad.

However, taking full advantage of this natural gas source will require the construction of a pipeline from Urucú to Manaus, the capital and industrial centre of the northwestern state of Amazonas, where Petrobras has a refinery. The finished pipeline will stretch 650 km, crossing jungles, rivers and floodlands and running through isolated communities along the area's rivers.

The construction of a 285-km pipeline that carries both oil and cooking gas from Urucú to the port of Coari, completed in 1998, has already had negative repercussions, particularly as a result of uncontrolled migration to the area, said Marta Valeria Cunha of the Catholic Church's Pastoral Land Commission.

The population of Coari has more than doubled since 1993, when it was home to 38,000 people, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. By 2004, the population had soared to 80,500, and it is now estimated at around 100,000.

People have been drawn to the town by the belief that the natural gas industry will promote prosperity - an idea that has been encouraged by the local authorities, Cunha told IPS.

Last month, around 2,000 newcomers suddenly moved into an area on the town's outskirts, sparking clashes that left several people wounded and over 50 in jail, she reported.

The main source of employment is the task of clearing a 15 to 20-metre-wide swath through the jungle, along which the pipeline will be installed, 1.5 metres underground. Although these jobs are temporary and low-paying, they are nonetheless attractive to potential labourers from impoverished communities considerable distances away, Cunha explained.

This sudden influx of migrant workers and the tent cities that have sprung up to house them have led to an upsurge in malaria, child prostitution, violence, drug use, AIDS and teen pregnancies, she added.

In addition to a malaria epidemic, the inhabitants of nearby Vila Lira have complained that the draining and filling of lagoons in the area have reduced fish stocks to one quarter of previous levels, according to the personal accounts of local people videotaped by journalist André Muggiati.

²The environmental impact will be overcome by nature's ability to recover, but the social impact is permanent,² warned Cunha.

Her goal now is to ensure that the 365-km pipeline from Coari to Manaus - to be completed by the end of next year - will benefit the people in the riverside settlements along its path, ²and not just Manaus and its industrial and business communities.²

The secretary of the environment of the state of Amazonas, Virgilio Viana, admitted that there were ²a few mistakes² made between Urucú and Coari, but stressed that these are being corrected. A lengthy process of consultations with the area's residents and a team of scientists from the local university preceded the construction of this new section of the pipeline.

Furthermore, the state government and Petrobras launched a programme last year to bring medical and dental care, legal documentation services, environmental education and credits to promote sustainable development to 131 communities near the route followed by the pipeline, reported Viana.

Other projects including the construction of schools, sports programmes for young people and efforts to combat malnutrition have been undertaken to serve settlements near Petrobras facilities, noted Giovanni Paiva, the Amazon region director of Transpetro, the transport subsidiary of the state oil company.

The pipeline running from Urucú to Manaus will be extremely safe, with electronic controls and valves every 30 km that will automatically close in the event of an accident, thereby limiting the potential damage, he said. Three types of protection will slow down corrosion and allow for the pipes to be replaced before they have deteriorated.

In addition, the pipeline is being installed underground and underwater, to prevent vandalism and environmental damages. The pipeline also avoids the need for shipping the oil by river.

The drilling facilities and pipelines are located in sparsely populated areas and will not require the construction of highways. All transportation in the region is by boat along its abundant rivers, and in some cases by air.

Moreover, Urucú does not have an indigenous population, because its forests provide little fruit, explained Ken Araujo, the Petrobras marketing manager for the Amazon region.

However, the Urucú-Coari pipeline crosses the lands of the Miranha people, who are demanding ²compensation² from Petrobras in the from of social benefits, Jecinaldo Cabral, coordinator of Association of Brazilian Amazon Indigenous Organisations, told IPS.

The problem is that the land in question has not been legally demarcated as indigenous territory, and Petrobras negotiated the pipeline's passage with a landholder who had proof of ownership dating back to 1914, noted Giovanni Paiva.

With regard to issues that affect the country's indigenous peoples, Petrobras must follow the guidelines set by the National Indigenous Foundation, an official government agency.

Petrobras has never experienced serious accidents in the Brazilian Amazon, and its efforts to reduce environmental impact and openness to dialogue are recognised by local environmental activists. However, the state-run company is facing considerable national and international opposition to another Amazon region project, in Ecuador.

Petrobras was awarded the concession to explore for oil in a section of Ecuador's Yasuni National Park, an area rich in biodiversity and inhabited by the Huaoroni indigenous people, who have already been adversely affected by the activities of a number of other transnational oil companies.


La'o Hamutuk Report from Oilwatch Conference in Ecuador, October 2006.


Oil activity in Ecuador is located mainly in the Amazon, one of the places with the most diversity on the Planet and the home to 13 indigenous nationalities, although there is a little hydrocarbon activity in the sea.

Up until now oil activity influences 3 million hectares of humid tropical Ecuadorian Amazon forest.

The oldest activity is that of the Texaco company that has operated in the country for 26 years. Up until 1990 Texaco had extracted 88% of the total national production of oil and operated the oil duct. Texaco drilled 399 wells and constructed 22 drilling stations, producing huge environmental, social and cultural impacts. For this reason they have been facing class legal action since 1993, in a State Court in New York in the United States.

The companies that operate in the country at the moment are: Petroecuador (state company, 80% of national production), City Investing (Alberta Energy Co., who has operated since the mid-70s), Occidental, Lumbaqui Oil, Cayman, Kerr-McGee, Agip, Vintage, YPF-Repsol, Prez Company, Tecpecuador (marginal camp), Petroleos Sudamericanos (marginal camp), and Petrocol (marginal camp). Many of these companies have recently been created, and are found operating camps occupied earlier by other companies such as Santa Fe, BP-Amoco, Arco and Conoco.

Several indigenous populations are affected by oil activity, among them the Quichuas of Putumayo, of Napo, of Loreto, of Pastaza, Siona, Secoya, Cofanes de Duvuno, Candia Na’en, Dureno, Shuar, Achuar and Hoaorani.

There are 600.00 hectares that have been licensed to CGC (Argentina), Burlington (USA), Tripetrol (Ecuador), but that have not yet entered into operation.

Among the new camps to be licensed is included ITT (in the heart of Yasun National Park). The current government plans to construct a mixed company, which will not only include the exploitation of crude, but also the refinery and the assembly of a thermoelectric plant. The private company will be in charge of exploiting the oilfield and the State will receive a percentage of participation in the production.

A new bidding round has been announced, where 11 blocks of 200.000 hectares each is being offered.

The annual production rate of oil is almost 380.000 barrels of oil per day, of which 0.4% corresponds to the coastal region and 99.6% to the Amazon. 86% corresponds to the 34 camps that Petroecuador operates and 14% to private companies. The riches oil camps - that were discovered in the 70s by Texaco - are Shushufindi - Aguarico, Sacha and Libertador.

At the moment Ecuador has a processing capacity of 157.500 barrels per day. The most important products are gasoline and diesel, the most used combustible in transport. The hydrocarbon sector contributes 71% of the national energy requirements, dividing the rest of the percentage between biomass and hydroelectric sources.

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Ecuador seeks oil 'compensation'

By Daniel Gordon BBC News, 21 September 2007

The Yasuni National Park in Ecuador is reckoned to be one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. Beneath it, though, lie an estimated one billion barrels of oil.

The Ecuadorean government has begun negotiating with oil companies interested in bringing that oil to the surface, although President Rafael Correa says his preferred option would be to leave the reserves untouched.

Earlier this year, Mr Correa announced a one-year moratorium on oil exploration in the area and launched a plan aimed at safeguarding the Yasuni park, which covers some 9,820 sq km (3,791 sq miles) in the country's Amazon rainforest region.

Under the proposal, Mr Correa is asking for foreign donations worth $350m (£175m) in exchange for a promise not to exploit the Yasuni reserves, but how feasible an idea is it?

 One of the people responsible for developing the proposal is Carlos Larrea, a professor at the Andean University in Quito, who says it is an entirely original approach to tackling climate change.

"We are presenting a new way to prevent global warming. Instead of trading with produced emissions - as under the Kyoto protocol - we are proposing to avoid production, by keeping the oil in the ground," he told the BBC.

Professor Larrea's role has been to provide technical advice to the group that first put forward the idea, the environmental group Accion Ecologica. The group says the $350m could be reached by writing off some of Ecuador's national debt and increasing international aid, as well as through donations by private individuals.

The target figure is estimated to be half what the oilfield would bring each year in if it was developed.

The suggestion has been favourably received in several quarters: Germany says it is taking the idea seriously Norway is to send a delegation to Ecuador in the next few months The World Bank is consulting with other international organisations Italy's parliament is about to vote on whether to give official approval to the project Paolo Cacciari, one of the Italian MPs in favour, says the motion before parliament already has the support of more than 50 of his colleagues from both left and right. None of them appears worried by the idea of reducing potential global oil supplies in this way.

"We've extracted more oil than we were ever meant to," he says.

"We have an ecological debt to pay back, and this suggestion by Ecuador is an intelligent solution. It's the responsibility of all of us to look after these reserves." So far though, there has been no firm commitment towards the funding.


Robert Hofstede, based in Quito for the World Conservation Union, approves of the idea in principle but he has reservations.

"The questions I have are what will be done with this money? The government's proposals are very broad. Also, can the government guarantee to any interested party that the petrol will stay in the ground for eternity - or at least for more than two or three governmental cycles." Mr Hofstede also notes that Ecuador has been criticised in other South American countries for even considering oil exploration in a designated UN biosphere reserve.

"They never touched their petrol resources within protected areas. But Ecuador did some drilling very close to their protected reserves. And now they see Ecuador asking for money to stop doing something they never should have done in the first place." If the scheme can be made to work, though, he thinks other countries will follow with similar projects.

"Everyone will be watching what's happening with Ecuador to see if this creates a precedent so that they might afterwards go to the same donor countries and say they want to do the same."

Popular message

For decades, foreign companies have made large profits working the oil fields of Ecuador, something resented both by the indigenous people and by Ecuador's own energy industry.

In his successful election campaign last year, President Correa tapped into that resentment.

He promised to defend the rights of indigenous peoples and to run a green administration, free from ties to multinational energy companies. His message was popular many Ecuadoreans.

But soon the president will have to decide which camp to align himself with.

Regional oil industry analyst Roger Tissot thinks that those in favour of development, rather than conservation, will ultimately win.

"In the big scheme of things, he's most likely to align himself with the pro-development group. The other groups will be weakened and not be able to stop a future development of those fields." Mr Tissot says he also expects the appeal for funds to fall short of its target, allowing Mr Correa to argue: "I've tried the environmental option, but it didn't work." Mr Tissot told the BBC: "This was a good political strategy, to force the environmental groups to put their money where their mouth is.

"And if that doesn't happen, it'll force the indigenous communities to face reality and see that they need the oil money." Mr Hofstede thinks the government must make its commitment to the preservation of the Yasuni park much clearer.

That way, he says, the detractors who see this as a political stunt will be silenced.

"Instead of a proposal that can be interpreted in many different ways, they should just take the decision and say 'We will not touch this area', and then start negotiating." Whatever happens with this scheme, it will inevitably be seen as an original way of fighting global warming.

As things stand now, the chances of success are limited, and even Professor Larrea who helped draw up the project recognises that.

But for him, it also has a symbolic value. The principle of tackling global warming not by trading in greenhouse gases but by not producing them in the first place is genuinely innovative, he thinks.

"I see it as a challenge to the international community, which will probably create a precedent for a new mechanism to prevent global warming."

Story from BBC NEWS:

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March 2001

NEW YORK - A federal judge this week dismissed lawsuits against Texaco brought by rainforest Indians of Ecuador and Peru who alleged the oil company contaminated Their water and land.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff said that the cases should be brought in Ecuador instead of the United States. Texaco, has denied allegations in the suits.

"These cases have everything to do with Ecuador and nothing to do with the United States,” Rakoff said.

The litigation stems from two suits filed in 1993 and 1994 by residents of the Oriente region of Ecuador and residents of Peru who live downstream from Ecuador’s Oriente region. The plaintiffs alleged that no a Texaco subsidiary dumped an estimated billion gallons of toxic waste into their environment while extracting oil from the Ecuadorian Amazon between 1964 and 1992.

The plaintiffs alleged that instead of pumping the substances back into emptied wells, Texaco dumped them in local rivers, directly into landfills or spread them on the local dirt roads.

They also alleged that the Ecuadorian Pipeline, constructed by Texaco, leaked large amounts of petroleum into the environment. The Indians alleged that they and their families suffered various injuries, including poisoning and development of precancerous growths.

The district court had originally dismissed the suits in 1996 and 1997 on grounds that New York was not the proper place for the litigation and that Ecuador would be a more convenient location.

However, in 1998, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling and sent it back to the trial court for reconsideration. Texaco is headquartered in cost, may cut White Plains, New York, which is within the exports Second Circuit’s venue.

Last year Rakoff had given the litigation new life in Manhattan federal court saying that while he had tentatively been leaning parks toward dismissing the suits so they could proceed in a foreign court, he said he would consider arguments about whether an aims Ecuadorian court could be impartial after a military coup in which President Jamil Mahuad was deposed.

Rakoff had said that Mahuad had appeared to be taking significant steps toward improving the independence of the judiciary. He said that while Mahuad was eventually replaced by the elected vice-president, Gustavo Noboa, the events of the coup were reported as evidence of a -resurgent military involvement in civilian environmentalists affairs.

However, in his ruling Rakoff said he was now satisfied that the courts of Ecuador can exercise “that modicum of independence and impartiality necessary to an adequate alternative forum.”

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Evidence Detailing More than Three Hundred and Fifty Contaminated Sites Handed to Chevron’s Chairman

Los Angeles, CA (April 26, 2001) -- Chevron’s Board of Directors where put on notice at the Company’s annual meeting yesterday that the company is legally required to notify the SEC and their shareholders of the law suit and the environmental liabilities it would inherit following the merger with Texaco with respect to hundreds of contaminated sites left behind by Texaco in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Atossa Soltani, Executive Director of Amazon Watch who spoke at the Annual Meeting, asked Chevron’s management to disclose the serious liabilities in the Ecuadorian Amazon and urged the company to send a delegation to investigate the extensive contamination caused by Texaco during its operations from 1972 to 1992. She also presented the Board the 800-page book produced by the plaintiffs entitled After the Gold Rush, which documents in detail each of the contaminated sites and their location.

Chevron’s Chairman David J. O’Reilly thanked Soltani for presenting the information and said that the company “is aware of the case and will review the documents.”

In February, Cristobal Bonifaz, co-counsel for the Plaintiffs in the pending class action law suit filed on behalf of the indigenous and local inhabitants of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador --Aguinda, et al. v. Texaco, Inc., and Jota et al. v. Texaco, Inc. --sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding Chevron’s failure to disclose liabilities which have the potential to “represent a value considerably higher than twenty per cent of the assets of Texaco, Inc.” The letter states “Texaco left more than three hundred and fifty contaminates sites in the rainforest, sites which continue to this day to pollute the drinking water of the region. Thousands of people of the rainforest are currently suffering a number of diseases, including cancer and dermatological problems as a result of Texaco’s actions.”

The letter also points to the Exxon Valdez case, which he says “pales in comparison with this disaster.” In the Exxon Valdez case, a jury awarded more than hundred and eighty million dollars in compensatory damages to the plaintiffs and awarded an additional sum of five billion dollars as a result of the recklessness of Exxon’s actions.

Texaco extracted more than 1.5 billion barrels of oil from the once-pristine Amazon rainforest in Northeastern Ecuador. In order to save millions of dollars in extraction costs, Texaco simply dumped the toxic wastes from its operations into the environment on a daily basis for twenty years.

Last month, a delegation from Amazon Watch toured the contaminated sites and brought back visual evidence of Texaco’s toxic legacy. For more information, photos, videos, or the After the Gold Rush book (on CD-ROM), contact 310-455-0617. Background information may found at


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Acción Ecológica's Stand on the OCP Pipeline

Quito, 10 November, 2000

The construction of oil pipelines has severe impacts from the moment the way is cleared. It provokes deforestation, interruption of the flow of water, affectation of agriculture and social conflicts in urban zones, among other things.

In a country like Ecuador, traversed by seismic fault lines, it is impossible to find a safe route. Volcanoes affect all possible routes.

Oil spills fundamentally located in the zones that cross the mountain range provoke the contamination of the headwaters of the rivers, threatening the alimentary security of the country.

Spills, fires and explosions in the case of Ecuador, are not simply isolated accidents, they are part of the daily history of the petroleum industry infrastructure.

To achieve the quota of more than 350,000 barrels daily that the OCP is anticipated to transport, the production reserves located in protected areas and indigenous territories must be included.

This pipeline that will transport heavy crude presents three problems, summarized below:

This crude that has an elevated quantity of sulfur and heavy metals that cause the accelerated deterioration of the petroleum infrastructure and, for its transport and refining requires a great quantity of energy and emits a greater percentage of wastes than light crude.

It is extracted by private enterprises that have demonstrated strong ties with processes of corruption and have shown themselves to be economically inefficient.

The construction route of the OCP, for the most part, runs parallel to the SOTE (Transecuadorian Oil Pipeline System). During the construction of the SOTE, the serious risks that this infrastructure presented were not taken into consideration, seeing that:

bulletThe route of the SOTE is of high seismic risk
bulletThe earth along a large part of the route is very soft and vulnerable
bulletOnly the great distance in relation with the Peruvian border was considered in order to guarantee its safety, however today it is the most vulnerable route in terms of security, given that it is very close to the border with Colombia
bulletDuring the time in which it was in charge of the operation, Texaco produced a spill of more than 18 billion gallons of crude
bulletIn the last three years, major accidents have taken place in the western mountain range and in the province of Esmeraldas (in the northwest of Ecuador), in most instances because of land conditions inadequate to support this structure.

The Ecuadorian government has mentioned that on some occasions the spills are the result of sabotage. To construct an oil pipeline, and for Ecuador to enter into the Plan Colombia, is to put the country at significant risk given that the Colombian guerillas have damaged the Colombian pipeline on more than 670 occasions in 10 years, with a spill of more than 2 million barrels.

With these antecedents, to base the national budget nearly 50% in petroleum income is a mistake.

Both proposed routes for the OCP are effected by the volcanoes Minahulca and Guagua Pichincha, and both traverse a complex system of geological faults. In Ecuador, there has not been a single decade that has not suffered natural disasters of a geological nature, and of grand magnitude, that have provoked ruptures in the petroleum infrastructure.

Two proposed layouts for the pipeline are: on one side, through agricultural zones and populous neighborhoods of Quito, and on the other, through a zone of high biodiversity, such as the forests of the northwest of the province of Pichincha. This causes a conflict of interests between conservation and the survival of campesinos and of Quito’s urban populations.

The political petroleum proposal of the present government is based in overdimensionalized reserves (use possible reserves), and all the present proposals, such as that of the OCP, the joint ventures, the proposal of the ITT project and the tenth round of bidding, aim at the overexploitation of hydrocarbon resources.

In governmental proposals, it is estimated that by 2025 the national government will have to import petroleum, under the assumption that the probable reserves are actual.

In accordance with the petroleum reserves, in the year 2004, the minimum petroleum exploitation (given that the piping will no longer be adequate) of 700,00 barrels per day are a goal that implies, in addition to overexploitation, the sacrifice of the reserves for upcoming years after just 5 years.

Under these considerations, the logic of overexploitation is absolutely irrational because it entails the construction of an enormous infrastructure that after 20 years will be useless, and is going to provoke an increase in the external debt of the country or the mortgaging of resources as entitlements or petroleum factoring.

The construction of this infrastructure, and the petroleum extraction projects in fragile areas with vulnerable populations, will cause a grave cultural and ecological loss.

With these antecedents, Acción Ecológica:

bulletOpposes completely the construction of the OCP
bulletOpposes the extraction of heavy crude
bulletOpposes petroleum extraction in protected areas
bulletOpposes the ITT project, which signifies the end of Yasuní National Park

The national government, rather than sell energy sovereignty to the highest bidder, should apportion energy resources for future generations and invest in research into alternative energy sources.


Quito, February 21, 2001, HOY

A new bid has been a listed for the exploration of three blocks in the Amazon.

Petroecuador started to outline the ninth round of international bidding for the exploration and exploitation of 13 hydrocarbon blocks located in the southeast of the Amazon.

The structures, that were not offered in the eighth round in 1996, are marked by the numbers 4, 5, 22, 25, 26, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36 and 37 and form part of the third oil map of the country.

In this area there are 15 camps discovered by the previous state company CEPE and by Tenneco and YPF 20 years ago, but the largest investment force has been by the state company. These camps have heavy crude reserves of 348.5 million barrels of oil between 10 and 22 degrees API.


Quito, February 16, 2001

The government of Ecuador subscribed in a private international consortia a contract to construct a new oilduct for heavy crude which will cost 1 100 million dollars.

“Today we begin the construction of a new Ecuador”, president Gustavo Noboa stated in a speech yesterday, who signed as an honorable witness. The duct, with a capacity to transport up to 450.000 barrels daily, should be ready in 25 months.

The project will be financed and constructed buy a multinational consortia OCP Limited, made up of Alberta Energy, from Canada; Agip, from Italy; Kerr McGee and Occidental, from the United States; and Repsol-YPF, from Spain and Argentina.

The government calculates that the construction of the new oilduct will generate around 50 000 jobs and permit that the country earns an average of 500 million dollars a year, depending on the price per barrel, when the project begins to operate.

The contract contemplates the operation and administration of the new oilduct by OCP Limited for the next 20 years, before passing to the hands of the Ecuadorian state.

The duct will transport denser oil (between 18 and 24 degrees API), from the deposits in the Amazon to the port of Esmeraldas, on the Pacific north coast of the country. It will be approximately 500 kilometers in length.

Source: José Velásquez. (AP)
Information: Acción Ecológica:

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Social and environmental organizations solicit the cancellation of the contract with OCP Limited.

Quito.- At 12:00 yesterday various organizations presented a constitutional protection act against state authorities and particulars who are participating in the Heavy Crude Oil Duct project (OCP) and asked that the signed contract between the government and the OCP Limited consortium be cancelled.

The people making the demands: Acción Ecológica, National Campesino Coordination, CONAIE, FENOCIN, Association of Professionals of Petroecuador, CEDHU and APDH, and presented the demand in front of Jaime Calero, secretariat of the Court, who promised to give the legal transactions.

Ivonne Ramos, from Acción Ecológica, informed that the demand is planted against the president of the Republic, Gustavo Noboa, the Minister of Energy, Pablo Terán, the company OCP Ecuador S.A., the OCP Limited consortium and the construction company Techint.

The main argument planted by those demanding the cancellation is that the construction puts high-risk ecological zones in danger and that the people responsible did not previously consult the community.

Article 88 from the Constitution was cited: “All state decisions that could effect the environment will count on the criteria of the community, who will be previously informed.”

If the judicial dependence protects the act, the suspension of the OCP could be ordered.


While ten ecologists symbolically held the Minister of Energy, Pablo Terán, at 10:15 in the morning, 100 people supported the protest from the streets, exhibiting signs that reject the construction of the oil duct.

At the door of the dispatch of the Ministry there was a discussion between the protesters and the functionaries, complaining that the ecologists interrupted a public dependence.

The representatives of Acción Ecológica submitted a document to the functionaries with observations on the environmental impact study carried out on the new oil duct.

Source: “El Universo” May 16, 2001,  Guayaquil - Ecuador


Before the start of the construction of the oil duct, the community had consolidated a front of opposition to OCP, planned for next June.

Quito.- The protests are not only against the construction of the Heavy Crude Oil Duct (OCP), but also against the procedure. In the past two weeks the number of people against the construction has risen in the communities in the zones of influence and in ecological organizations.

The OCP Limited consortium, responsible for the construction, did not forge a favorable opinion with the inhabitants, who did not trust the notion of progress of the functionaries of the transnational, trying to sell them in three meetings.

In the first (El Chaco, May 4) the functionaries were able to present their ideas, but did not know how to respond to specific questions from the community, such as what will be the exact path of the duct.

In the second (Quinindé, May 9) the community took the stage and only permitted the functionaries three hours to talk afterwards, when everyone was tired and more than half of the audience had left.

In the third (San Miguel de los Bancos, May 11) the functionaries abandoned the meeting because of uprising from the population.

Ricardo Buitrón, representative from the environmental organization Acción Ecológica, said that there was no real process of dialogue and previous consultation, only after the signing of the contract last February, which, according to Buitrón’s criteria, was understood by Ecuadorian citizens as a trick.

In the meeting in San Miguel de los Bancos, one of the arguments from the community was the failure to complete Article 88 from the Constitution that states “Every state decision that could affect the environment should count on criteria from the community...”

Miguel Alemán, consultant for the company Entrix, who carried out the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for OCP Limited, said that they consulted several times, “but they could not do a case by case assessment.”

The meetings with the communities were part of a strategy set up by the government and the consortium as part of the requirements for the Environmental Management Law, which demands that the studies involve the public.

Another reef that OCP Limited could not get over was the incredulity of the local population towards the offers and promises of progress. Nobody from El Chaco, Quinindé or San Miguel de los Bancos believed OCP Limited.

Buitrón believes that “this is the result of 30 years of the oil era that has left 80% of the Ecuadorian population living in poverty.” The ecologist proposes an Ecuador with no oil, which gives privilege to other products with clean technologies.

Alemán gives reason to the reaction of the population. “In 30 years of oil exploitation we have not received anything but contamination, but this is a state problem, not of OCP Limited.”


Tomorrow, the inhabitants of the northeast of Pichincha will take over the road to Puerto Quito, in order to explain to drivers the environmental impacts in constructing the OCP.

Acción Ecológica says that the route of the OCP through the Papallacta zone could affect the potable water system that supplies a large part of Pichincha. Entrix says that the work is more secure to the south.

Source: “El Universo”, Guayaquil- Ecuador


Inhabitants of Nueva Loja have stated that they will not permit the construction of Amazonas 1 Pumping Station.

Sources: EL UNIVERSO, JULY 14, 2001

NUEVA LOJA, (Angel Sallo) — The authorities and the population of Lago Agrio closed the dialogue yesterday with OCP Limited, who are in charge of the construction of the new oil duct. It was resolved to continue discussions only in Lago Agrio and on the condition that the Amazons 1 pumping station would be constructed at kilometer 4 on route to Quito.

The mayor of Nueva Loja, Máximo Abad, stated that groups of 20 people from different neighborhoods and parishes will take turns at the site where the station is supposed to be constructed in order to stop machines or workers from entering.

“We are not going to let a transnational disrespect the rights of a town, of a people. Yesterday we organized guards from the town of Buenavista, and tomorrow a group will be coming from General Farfán.”

Thursday, after a protest march, verbal and confrontation arose between inhabitants and OCP workers, which obliged the armed forces to mobilize and remove equipment from the area.

At the moment, the inhabitants organized in neighborhood committees, are in a permanent session.


Abad indicated that the zone where the construction of the pumping station Amazonas is being planned, is only 600 meters from the town center.

He explained that if the station is built, Lago Agrio would be practically besieged because of the Petroecuador pumping stations and holding tanks to the north and to the south similar installations belonging to Repsol-YPF. To the east is the airport and to the west the new station.

Last week, José Dulbecco, coordinator for the firm Techint working on the OCP project, ratified that the construction of the Amazonas 1 pumping station does not mean any sort of danger for the city or its inhabitants.

Honable Peñaloza, president of the Buenavista neighborhood, indicated that the facilitators, in common agreement, decided to reject the offers from OCP for the sale of their lands “They have offered us health centers, schools, electricity, fiber optic telephone systems, road works and work”, he said.


Miguel Alemán of the company Entrix, also working with OCP Ecuador, said that the dialogues with the authorities of Lago Agrio will continue in spite of last Thursday’s incident. Alemán said that studies are being carried out to ask the government for guarantees for the execution of work in Lago Agrio, in spite of the oppositions to the pumping station.

“We will continue with the work, because OCP Ecuador has all of the legal documents to carry out this work”, he indicated.

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Source: Simón Pachano, FLACSO - Quito, 26 June, 2001

If the president of the Republic of Ecuador read this book, which very unlikely, he would release an expression of which the 300 columnists of the national press would take care of.

Being a terrorist book is no recommendation.

In the Company of Jesus of the Novitiate of Villagarcía, in Aragón Spain, there had entered a novice with the surname Salgado. He was a good fellow with noble ideals. When going through one of the novitiate tests, the one he had to pilgrim through the lands of the Duero asking for charity for one month, a teacher had given him a whistle so he could use it to scare off bad guys, some illegal Ecuadorian immigrants.

When the time came for him to take the first vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience, the council of superiors gathered in order to determine if the novice was mature enough for the vows. And they said no. He had to wait six more months. Reason being that famous whistle. Keeping a whistle which had been given as a present by a teacher without permission, was, definitely, wrong.

When the time came for being ordered a priest, 14 years later, priesthood was delayed one more year because of the famous whistle. An so on... later he had to make the fundamental Vow of Obedience to the Pope with a two year delay. And every time a promotion came up: Principal of University of X, Provincial of Aragon, General Father’s Assistant in Rome… promotions were delayed for him because of the whistle from Salgado. The whistle had entered his file, and never left it. When he died, the whistle appeared in the chronicle of the Gratifying News of the Province of Aragon of the Company of Jesus.

There is no such luck, dear ecologists, for this book co-edited and co-written by the terrorist group Acción Ecológica. And this is a real shame, because the book is good.

Its main themes and arguments revolve around a central idea: that it is possible and realistic that Ecuador can develop humanely without oil.

This affirmation is sacrilegious. If there was inquisition in this slowly developing country, the terrorist ecologists would have drowned in the calls of some oil and gas spill. And I say terrorist ecologists because those controlled by the regime, those who advertise pretty ideas about nature and being ecologically friendly, are silent when the opposition comes on the scene, those that are the lovers of progress and economic development.

The book is good because of its thesis or its main idea, which it develops well.

The book starts with the prince of terrorists, Alberto Acosta Espinosa, closely related to a crazy immortal and populist individual. Acosta contributes with two strong pieces, one at the beginning of the first part of the book, and the other at the beginning of the second part. Acosta analyses the development produced by oil, the benefits and negative consequences. This is well documented and argued. The second part proposes some elements so that poor countries can begin to think of development from their poverty.

A PhD graduate of Yale, Judith Kimmerling presents a piece in which she describes the horrors incurred by Texaco, and the defense of the Indians, the colonial settlers and nature. This piece of the judicial on-goings involving Texaco is well known in Ecuador because “Vistazo” published an abstract of the book on the Amazon and Oil in the 90s. Judith is a researcher in situ et in bibliotheca. Very complete, Dr. Kimmerling, very complete.

Alexandra Andrea Albuja clearly narrates the history of oil in Ecuador and provides us readers with precious pearls, such as the fight between Shell and Standard and the consequences for Ecuador after the invasion of Peru in 1941. This short history of oil in the Amazon is completed with a chronological map of events on the important moments in the history of oil and of the actions against oil activity by ecologists.

Carlos Larrea writes about the Transition to a Post-Oil Economy. Larrea already has us accustomed to his sober and correct writings, serious in his data, analysis and very philosophical. It is worth citing from the conclusion: “Given this reality, an alternative model is provided, which is diversified and based on a balanced development of the internal market and exportations, that consolidates the regulating role of the State in terms of natural resources, and redistributive action, and promotes a sustainable development based on equal distribution of income and productive resources, the development of human capital and sustainability. For this option to be made possible, it needs the wide participation of an organized society.” (p. 105)

There are two pieces on alternative energy and the constitution of a decentralized State. The one is by Milton Balseca, and the other by Fernando Carrión. These topics are well known as their authors have often included them in their columns and speeches.

This is how an alternative proposal goes about being constructed from diverse variants of social sciences and technology, resulting in a proposal with a head, a body, arms and legs.

Esperanza Martinez closes the second part with a radical proposal, a valiantly declared utopia: the proposal for a complete moratorium on all oil activity. This thesis of a post-oil alternative is compared to the writings of Santa Catalina de Siena and church reform. Both are mystic writings.

The third part of the book is shorter and more to the point. It touches on diverse political alternatives for a post-oil Ecuador in the fields of energy sovereignty, food sovereignty, community economies, alternative markets, artesian work, and other alternatives: some already developed in the book and others which are new. This section includes the following authors: Esperanza Martínez, Elizabeth Bravo, Carlos Viteri Gualinga, Catalina Sosa y Diego Puente Corral.

The third part and the whole book is concluded by Ivonne Ramos, with a piece titled “The Megaphone, the Cloth and the Drum” about how to mobilize the natural and eco-society against Texaco. There are dates and events in chronological order, of what has been demanded of Texaco, as well as a description of how to preserve this struggle. In effect, the last part of the book, tells us how to be a stone in the shoe, a flea in the ear and hair in the soup of Texaco, accumulating evidence for the court, and putting in practice creative actions of high impact at the national and international level.

The book ends gloriously with a tempest of rays: with too much ozone in the air. This ozone is in the form of statistics on oil and the national economy.

As you can see, the book is worth a lot, it is well done, and very up-to-date. It offers a collection of coherent alternatives to oil development, which are well thought-out. Far from being a terrorist book, it is a creative and dynamic book full of hope.

The thesis is realistic and possible. It is possible in scholastic logic because the concepts do not contradict themselves. It is possible that a post-oil development occur, that development start with objective conditions.

The book itself is a challenge; it is a book of challenges. Many of its proposals are utopian, but they pass the challenge. The fact that they cannot be put in practice through a reasonable process in a given amount of time, also passes. And people who do not have political power propose these two elements.

It is a book that that reflects many actions carried out by citizens. The initiatives in action are valid, small, transcendental, generators of new ways of living with human and natural resources in this country that based on a constitution with practical processes, will continue to enrich and grow. So it isn’t all utopia.

I close this presentation with giving my hand and a kiss to the authors: with applause, with love and with breath. Keep up the struggle which is long, but the ending that you are looking for is a little closer each day.



The community of Sarayacu in the Ecuadorian Amazon rejects the continuous pursuits of the oil company CGC against us.

In May 2000 we had a meeting in our community with Mr. Ricardo Nicolás, representative of CGC. He offered us 60 000 dollars if we accepted CGC oil exploration. In addition, he promised us, that if we did not accept, CGC would return to Argentina, remaining friends with us.

We did not accept his proposal, and have repeatedly stated that we will not accept any oil activity within our territory.

However, CGC continues to pursue this issue with us. CGC pays people from indigenous communities to circulate pro-oil propaganda, and also slander community leaders in order to create internal conflict and division which facilitates the entrance of the oil company into the territory.

On September 21 to the 23 there was a meeting in the community of Canelos, financed by CGC, in order to make it seem that the communities were in agreement with the exploration of oil. Six people from Sarayacu were invited, who were not representatives of the community. Only three accepted the invitation.

We know that oil exploration will only give us contamination, hunger and misery. We live from hunting, fishing and our small plots, and if oil contaminates our land and our rivers we will not be able to survive. The money that we would be able to gain for a few months being workers for the company means nothing compared to what we will lose.


We refuse the dirty maneuvers of CGC and demand that they carry through with their promise of leaving our territories since we do not accept their presence.


We are warning our indigenous brothers and sisters to be careful of Mr. David Gualinga, and indigenous native of Sarayacu, who was thrown out of the community in 1983 for being a liar and for trying to divide the community. He is now paid by the oil companies and goes from community to community within the concession to try and convince the people.


We demand that we be able to maintain friendly relations with our neighboring communities, and to not fall in the traps set by GCG so that we fight with our brothers and sisters.


We ask for solidarity and moral support from organizations, the government and friends in the entire world in the defense of our territory, at the same time defending the Amazon jungle and the environment in the entire world.


We declare that any move by the oil company to enter our territory will be considered an act of war, and we will take the corresponding action in order to defend ourselves. We not only defend our rights, but also our obligation to protect our children and future generations.

We want to free ourselves, once and for all, of the constant threat of oil companies, so that we can live in peace and tranquility, and are able to concentrate in the struggle for bettering our living conditions.

Sarayacu, September 25, 2001


Quito. Saturday, October 13, 2001

Hundreds of military are on guard during the construction of the new oil pipeline for heavy crude in Ecuador, whose execution provoked protest from ecologists and students, who maintained a blockade in front of the machines on Saturday, because of construction in an area of biological importance.

The military were charged with guarding the six stations and 11 camps, indicated Andrés Gálvez, from the Argentinean security company Techint, which forms part of the international consortium charged with carrying out the work.

Gálvez stated that there would be 120 men guarding the specified sites.

The oil pipeline, that will be 504 kilometers long, extends from Lago Agrio in the Ecuadorian Amazon, to port at Balao on the Pacific.

Ecologists, inhabitants and university students were in protest for the third day in a row in order to impede the machines from passing through Mindo, 35 Km northeast of Quito.

Acción Ecológica (AE), a national organization, sustains that this zone “is part of the protector forest Mindo-Nambillo, holding enormous biological and scenic importance and that has been recognized for its extraordinary concentration of birds, the biggest in South America.”

The pipeline, whose construction will mean a 1 100 million dollar investment, will have the capacity to transport 518,000 barrels of heavy crude, daily.

Ecuador exploits around 440,000 barrels per day (b/d), of which around 270,000 b/d are exported.

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Nueva Loja, 14 Jan. 2002

Radio Sucumbíos informed that today the campesino families that belong to the cooperative “Unión Paltense”, in the parish 7 de Julio, Shushufindi county, were violently repressed by police and soldiers at the request of the oil company OXY, on the 10th of January. The testimonies from this event express that the campesinos were kicked, beaten and affected by teargas bombs. The situation came about when the campesinos stopped all oil activities because they were not in agreement with the oil company for the amount that they were being paid for the use of their land for oil installations. Although there were shots, there is no record that anyone was hurt from bullets.

The police have stated that the repressive action was due to a request from OXY directives that were annoyed with the actions of the campesinos. In the violent repression, the Special Operations Group acted with force and was patrolling the region. Sixteen campesinos were detained, although later on they recovered their freedom because the Mayor of Shushufindi intervened.

The municipality manifested that they were astonished by the violence, especially since “this has never been seen before, and there is no justification for violent repression of this type”, they said to Radio Sucumbíos.

The International Peace Observatory expressed that “this act reveals the how fragile human rights are for people who reside around oil installations: the house, work on small farms, and the mobilization of these people who live around installations is marked by strict and permanent military control.” The security of citizens of Sucumbíos and Orellana is fragile since “they have to face delinquency, the violence from conflict in Colombia that more and more threatens life near the border, and the risk of violent repression at the request of oil companies in the region.”


Kintto Lucas

QUITO, Feb 20 (IPS) - Environmental activists are camping out in treetops and chaining themselves to trees in Ecuador’s Amazon jungle as part of an international campaign to block the construction of an oil pipeline that is to run through fragile tropical forest and highland ecosystems. In Germany, meanwhile, the Green Party and the environmental watchdog Greenpeace International are holding demonstrations outside the prominent bank that is leading the financing for the project.

For months, local officials in two Ecuadorian provinces along with grassroots organizations of small farmers and indigenous people have been staging roadblocks and have taken over oil wells to protest the pipeline, which has also been questioned by the World Bank and Germany’s Environment Minister Bärbel Höhn.

Greenpeace activists protested Monday and Tuesday outside the Düsseldorf headquarters of the government of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NWR) in the western part of Germany, with a representation of the pipeline made out of tires.

The demonstrators demanded that the NWR state government block financing for the Oleoducto de Crudo Pesado (OCP, or Heavy-Crude Pipeline) by the Westdeutsche Landesbank (WestLB), 43 percent of whose shares are owned by NWR. WestLB is heading a consortium of banks providing 900 million dollars in loans to the project.

The government of President Gustavo Noboa defends the 1.1- billion-dollar pipeline as vital to jump -starting Ecuador’s troubled economy. Oil production, which has lagged in recent years, is supposed to double once the new pipeline begins carrying crude to ports on the Pacific coast.

Land has already begun to be cleared for the pipeline in fragile ecosystems, and environmentalists complain that the country’s burgeoning eco-tourism industry will be hurt.

Greenpeace activist Martin Kaiser said the project has failed to take into account the risks involved in running a pipeline through an area of seismic activity and landslides, which could lead to oil spills that would cause serious damages to the Amazon jungle and to the drinking water sources that supply Quito.

Members of the local environmental group Acción Ecológica and Greenpeace activists have toured the pipeline’s 600-km route, which runs from the Amazon jungle across the Andes mountains to a Pacific Ocean port in the northwestern province of Esmeraldas, to verify the conditions under which the construction is taking place.

On Guarumos hill, located in the Mindo-Nambillo Cloud forest Reserve, 50 km northwest of the capital, Greenpeace activists visited the platform camps set up in the treetops by members of Acción Ecológica, who are staging what is reportedly South America’s first “tree-sits”, a protest method that has become common in the United States, to block the pipeline.

The activists will remain chained to the trees until they are physically removed, said Acción Ecológica leader Ricardo Buitrón, who has spent the past two weeks in the area.

“This is a passive resistance measure against a project that will cause the death of the forest, of biodiversity, and, in consequence, of the people living in the areas” the pipeline will pass through, said Buitrón.

Peer Steinbruck, the finance minister of NWR and a member of the WestLB administrative board, “can and should suspend loan disbursements for this project, which is highly destructive of Ecuador’s jungle,” argued Kaiser.

In Germany, the international campaign against the pipeline has won the support of the Green Party parliamentarians and Environment Minister Höhn, who also belongs to that party.

Local authorities in the northeastern Ecuadorian provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana, along with peasant and indigenous organizations, declared an indefinite strike Monday, which includes roadblocks and the occupation of oil wells, to demand compensation for the environmental damages that will be caused by the pipeline.


QUITO, Ecuador, March 8, 2002 - Ecuador’s Environment Ministry has temporarily suspended pipeline builder OCP Ecuador SA’s license until it repairs damages near a protected forest, an official said this week.

This Andean nation is counting on a new $1.1 billion pipeline to more than double its crude transport capacity to 850,000 barrels per day and flood government coffers with fresh oil revenues.

Environmental groups have long opposed the pipeline, which they fear will destroy large tracts of Amazon jungle and a protected forest and bird habitat near Ecuador’s capital called Mindo.

The Environment Ministry suspended the license it originally granted to OCP after construction work caused damage in an area near Mindo called Guarumos. The license is suspended for this area until damages are corrected.

“The measure is specific and temporary, until the company carries out remediation work,” Ecuador’s undersecretary for Environmental Quality, Alfredo Barriga, told Reuters. He did not explain exactly what the damages were.

OCP spokesman Francisco Diaz told Reuters that the presence of environmental activists near Mindo to protest the pipeline has hindered the company’s ability Conservationist to work, and that he hopes the license will soon be restored.

Work near Mindo has been suspended since last December due to rainy weather. Panel endorses OCP has also faced setbacks in construction in the Amazon jungle after protesters last month seized oil wells and blocked highways to demand more development funds from the government and the company.

OCP is made up of Alberta Energy Co Ltd, Agip Petroleum , Kerr-McGee, Occidental Petroleum Corp. , Spain’s Repsol-YPF and Argentina’s Perez Companc and construction firm Techint.

Ecuador, which currently has just one pipeline, produces about 408,000 barrels of crude per day. Oil is its biggest export.


June 6, 2002

Four people have been injured and ten detained in a violent confrontation with campesinos who were blocking oil pipeline work in Sucumbíos

At 04:00 today hundreds of police and soldiers interrupted a camp that had been maintained for a month by campesinos at Km. 32 on the way to Lago Agrio-Quito.

At dawn today, hundreds of uniformed police and military soldiers violently interrupted the camp at Km 42 via Quito where a group of farmers affected by the construction of the OCP were impeding operation of the Techint machinery. The uniformed police and soldiers used force, and attacked the 25 men, women and children with sticks, kicks, fists and tear gas. As a result, at least four people were injured, by punches or barbed wire while trying desperately to escape from the repression. In addition, at least 11 people have been detained, and there are prison orders for the leaders of the Provincial Network of Affected People by the OCP.

The blockades were maintained from the 7 of May in several points on the road. At the moment, a blockade is still in process at Km. 46 and at Km. 50 on the road to Quito. Farmers in the area are essentially leading the protests where the old SOTE (Trans Ecuadorian Oil Pipeline System) crosses, and where the new OCP will cross. The inhabitants of the region have suffered 30 years the consequences of oil exploitations, which result in the contamination of water and soil because of extraction activities and the transport of crude. Now they are facing innumerable outrages by the OCP Consortium, with the support of the Special OCP Group and the National Police, who arbitrarily interrupt the properties of these farmers.

In the 50 kilometers of OCP construction from Lago Agrio to Quito, more than 100 farms have been affected. In information collected by Acción Ecológica, 55% of these farms declared that they have been pressured, blackmailed or threatened to sign agreements with the OCP Consortium. 23% of those interviewed have not signed any agreement with the OCP, because they either are not in agreement with the value of the compensation of because they do not want the pipeline on their properties. Among the people that have signed agreements, around 80% feel that the compensation that they received is unfair and does not cover the damage done to their properties by the construction work. They have denounced damage to their crops (coffee, cacao, fruit) and grazing fields, as well as to their farm animals.

73% of those interviewed denounced that the OCP construction work destroyed their water sources, and covered streams and rivers. This has provoked serious damage to the local population since they now have no water sources now, including potable water, water for their animals, or crops and grazing fields.

We demand that the government respond to the arbitrary acts of the OCP Consortium, including the use of police and military, and that the government guarantees the security of the mobilized campesinos who are in their right, since they are being constantly threatened with violence by police and military soldiers.

CONTACT: Natalia Arias.  Acción Ecológica


August 2002

Testimony of Nelson Alcívar, peasant affected by the construction of OCP Pipeline (Heavy Crude Oil Pipeline - Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados)

It is 3:00 p.m. and I am at the Oxy headquarters with other friends from the Amazon Network and the National Network of People Affected by the OCP. The OCP is the heavy crude pipeline that will take oil from the Amazon, and cross the country. Oxy is one of the partners in this consortium.

The surprise that we have encountered is that Oxy has shut all of its doors, and has mobilized their security forces and called the police. We are a group of about 50 people, from everywhere in between Esmeraldas and Lago Agrio, accompanied by environmentalist organizations, with the hope that the executives of the company will receive us and listen to us.

We are unarmed and the only things we carry are posters, demonstrating what we have suffered all this time since the beginning of OCP construction.

It is strange for me that, having requested an audience with Oxy, that they lock their door, mobilize their security forces and call the police. When they come onto my farm, they do it without asking any permission, without knocking on the door, and accompanied by the armed forces and the police, with absolutely no respect for those who take care of the forest, water and life in the Amazon.

A mass of armed forces of around 100 men arrive, commanded by their captain, and proceed to arrest the young ecologists and finally a squad of ten police take three of my friends. I decide to enter the fight. Grabbing them tightly, I start to drag them away and force them against a building, to avoid that they get put on the bus where several other friends already await after having been arrested by force, with no capture order. After struggling and enduring punches and kicks, and as a result breaking one of my fingers, my three friends and I were able to resist being imprisoned.

I now see that I not only live the brutality of the company on my property located 200 km from Quito, but also here, in the middle of the city, beside the offices of the company that conforms the OCP consortium.

My name is Nelson Alcívar and I live at Km. 72 on the Lago Agrio-Quito road, in the province of Sucumbíos. I have lived here for 17 years. My property lies beside the place where the OCP Cayagama station is being constructed.

I am against the construction of the OCP because it is an oil concession that is against the sovereignty of the country, evident in the enormous environmental devastations caused by the oil companies that make up the consortium, and for the oil spills, and the consequences that this has on human beings and wildlife, and also for being a contract in which the biggest benefits will go directly to the OCP, leaving only a minuscule part for the country.

OCP came into our farms, conducted its studies and opened roads without consulting us, everything under the military and police cover.

Some affected people have been compensated, but with many irregularities. For example, farm owners are not paid; instead people who have nothing to do with the farms that are affected are paid, such as Mayors or City-Council Members. One Mayor has charged 25.000 for one man’s land, and 20.000 for another farm. This has caused indignation in the population. Because of these incidents, the Amazon Network of People Affected by the OCP was formed, in order to demand fair compensation, as well as control over construction, and to avoid damage caused by the construction of the OCP with our participation, which up until now has not happened.

Farmers that have not received the promised compensations have been repressed, pursued, and have been abused and jailed by functionaries of the OCP.

My economy is based on raising and selling tropical fish, such as “cachama”, “sábalo”, “bagre” and “tilapia” for human consumption. In order to raise these fish, I need to use a water source that is located 120 meters away, precisely where they are now building the Cayagama platform. The oil and diesel, which fall in small quantities from the Techint machines that are building the station, have killed my young fish two times. The first time 80,000 were killed, the second time 20,000 were killed. I have now had to abandon my project.

I invested 60.000 dollars in this project, and the OCP will not give this to me.

Access to the only road has also been taken over by the OCP, which has paralyzed livestock movement on the farm. This 2 km long road connected all pastures and banana plantations, which are used to feed the cows and the pigs. The OCP occupies 400 m of this road, and has left the rest, which is useless because of the topography. The occupancy was violent, with no previous warning, and with the use of armed forces and police. 16 military personal and 30 police were brought in.

In order to survive, I had to sell 60 pigs and several cows.

The OCP has pressured the Banco Nacional Fomento regarding a debt that was to mature in 2006, but convinced them that it should already be mature, and therefore called for the auction of my farm, so I had to pay it to avoid being run down.

The last touch of bad luck came three weeks after when the bank called for the auction off of my farm again. The bank obliged me to pay the debt of the 11 farmers that I had given my signature to as a credit guarantee. I had to find the money and pay my debts in order to avoid the OCP auctioning off my property.

I have suffered constant persecutions, insults and aggressive behavior through the radio by OCP functionaries and threats from the army that they will make me disappear from the planet if I continue to organize people.

There are several campesinos and farmers in the areas that have received similar treatment.

Source: Acción Ecológica - Ecuador,

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Occidental Plans To Invest $808 Million In Ecuador Through 2006

QUITO (Dow Jones) U.S. -based energy group Occidental Petroleum Corp. said Tuesday it would invest $808 million in Ecuador through 2006. Paul MacInnes, Occidental’s general manager in Ecuador, told Dow Jones Newswires the investment forecast for this year alone is $220 million a 40% increase from the $157 million invested last year.

The new investments for the following years include $111 million in new exploration in so-called Block 15 in the Ecuadorian Amazon, which includes the Limonconcha, Indilla and Eden-Yuturi oil fields.

MacInnes also said $249 million will be invested in the Eden-Yuturi oil field, while $32 million has been earmarked for Indillana field and $24 million will go to Limoncocha.

Some $392 million will be invested in development in block 15 if the new exploration is successful. MacInnes also said that the company this year will finish work on a 135- kilometer secondary pipeline to transport the output from Eden-Yuturi, in Orellana province, to the OCP pipeline in Lago Agrio province. The construction started in November of 2001.

Currently, the company produces 7,000 b/d coming from Limoncocha and 22,000 b/ d at Indillan. The company hopes to increase the production of both to around 70,000 b/d by 2003.

“We have a commitment to pass through the OCP pipeline 70,000 barrels a day, when it’s operational in 2003,” MacInnes said.

Occidental is joined in the OCP consortium by Kerr McGee Corp. (KMG), Repsol- YPF SA (REP), Agip SpA (I.AGI) and Alberta Energy Co. (AOG), all of which already have operations in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Argentine concern Techint is the final member of the consortium and will be responsible for constructing the new OCP pipeline.

Operations at the Eden Yuturi and Limoncocha field will be shared by Occidental and Petroproduccion, a unit of state-run oil group Petroecuador.

At the moment, the two companies are working together on a development plan for the Eden-Yuturi oil field. According to the existing contract, Occidental will cover all operational costs, but production activities will be split between the two companies.

The Eden-Yuturi field is expected to add to national production about 45,000 barrels of oil per day. A total of 44 wells are set to be drilled in the field.

Occidental has maintained operations in the Ecuadorian Amazon since 1985 in block 15. Total reserves of the fields are estimated at around 233 million barrels of an average of grade 22 API quality.

By Mercedes Alvaro, Dow Jones Newswires; 5939-9728-653

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Sarayacu Community: We are Victims of Terrorism
by CGC/ChevronTexaco Oil Company

Press Release: February 8, 2003

The Community of Sarayacu, of the Ecuadorian Amazon, clears up versions spread by the international press saying that the community has taken “hostage” of oil workers in Block 23, an area where consortium CGC/ChevronTexaco search for oil.

“Taking hostages is something committed by cowardly delinquents who hide their identity and aspire to enrich themselves from ransom money,” says Hilda Santi, vice president of Sarayacu. “We only have defended our territory against the aggression of the petroleum oil companies CGC/ChevronTexaco according to our customary rights, the Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador and International Conventions. The petroleum company attempts to slander us as terrorists to sway the attention away from the abuses they commit against our rights.”

Mario Santi, ex-president of Sarayacu remembers, “Three years ago we invited Mr. Ricardo Nicolas of the CGC/ChevronTexaco to Sarayacu to dialogue about the petroleum activities. He offered us money and said if we didn’t accept it that it was okay, that the company would leave and we would stay friends. It was later decided not to accept the petroleum activity, but now the company invades our territory by force. Our people have been abused, we have been shot at, and also there has been a threat by oil workers to rape two girls of 10 and 12 years old.”

In the northern Ecuadorian Amazon, where 3 decades ago Texaco initiated petroleum oil exploitation, the rivers are contaminated and the people who depend on the fish for their subsistence suffer an extremely high incidence of cancer. “The rainforest and the river are our home and supermarket,” says Eni Santi, mother of five. “If they are going to exploit petroleum, it will be over our cadavers.”

The Sarayacu people do not oppose development. “They tell us they will use the most modern technology,” says Jose Machoa, professor of Sarayacu High School, “The problem is that is never a reality. If you show us at a place in the Amazon where the petroleum has been exploited and then the wells closed, and everyone agrees the petroleum exploitation has not brought contamination, or social disintegration, or distortion in the local economy, well then we can sit and talk. But the best thing for all sides would be an exchange toward the foreign debt for the conservation of the zone. Sarayacu is a zone of high biodiversity and includes a large area with a type of lakes that are unique in all the Amazon.”

The supposed support by other communities within Block 23 toward the petroleum activity does not impress Sarayacu. “They achieved to bribe the leaders of some communities. Right now there are people that speak in the name of communities and in the name of the company. We lament the situation, but we don’t meddle in the internal affairs of other communities. Now they have finished the seismic exploration phase in their territories, and we have not lifted one finger to put obstacles. What we defend is what belongs to us.”

For more information: Tel/fax: 593-3-886-978 Email:

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Indigenous Struggle in Ecuador Becomes a "Cause Beyond Control"
Transnational Oil Companies Free to Leave Amazon

By Kenny Bruno, EarthRights International
March 13, 2003

Force majeure -- literally "major force" but translated also as "cause beyond control" -- usually describes unforeseen natural catastrophes such as earthquakes or major upheavals such as wars, which can void the obligations of a legal contract.

But the Ecuadorian government now uses force majeure to describe legitimate community opposition to oil concessions on indigenous territory in the Amazon rainforest.

On March 4, 2003, the Ecuadorian newspaper Hoy reported that the Ministry of Environment has agreed to allow two transnational companies to cancel their oil concession contracts under the provision of force majeure. The force majeure they are referring to is the determined opposition of Kichwa, Shuar and Achuar people who live in the concession areas to ongoing activities by the companies, Burlington Resources of Texas and Compania General de Combustibles (CGC) of Argentina. The CGC concession is owned partly by ChevronTexaco, according to Platt's Oilgram News. (Oil giants Chevron and Texaco merged in 2000.)

This turn of events, in what has been furious struggle between indigenous communities and transnational oil companies, leaves the communities and their supporters wondering if they have won a major victory or are danger of in increasing repression.

On the surface, it would seem to be an inspiring victory for the indigenous people whose ancestral territories in the Amazon rainforest have become known as Block 23 (The CGC block) and Block 24 (the Burlington concession). Taken at face value, the decision frees the companies of any obligation to the Ecuadorian government to carry out oil activities in the areas. It means the determination of the communities -- who have officially decided to oppose oil development in their territories -- will be respected.

"We will say NO forever, we don't want to think about the possibility of oil in the future. We definitely want another kind of future," Achuar leader Santiago Kawarim was quoted as saying by the group Amazon Watch.

But there are reasons to be skeptical. Rene Ortiz, the president of the Association of Oil Companies in Ecuador, which includes both CGC and Burlington, has accused indigenous leaders of being "outlaws," according to Hoy. He says the problems in the two blocks are due to the absence of authorities in the remote rainforest. For his part, the Minister of Environment has responded by calling for police presence in the area.

These statements have human rights advocates in Ecuador concerned that the force majeure ruling is the beginning of campaign by the companies and their allies in government to force the indigenous communities to accept oil development in their territories against their will.

In a letter to Hoy, Jose Serrano, a lawyer with the Quito-based Center for Economic and Social Rights, points out that it is, in fact, the companies that have not complied with Ecuadorian law.

On November 15, 2002 the Civil Commission Against Corruption determined that Burlington had not filled the requirements of its concession contract. In addition, Burlington has violated an injunction against communicating with individual members of the Shuar federation, a practice that Shuar leaders say is meant to divide their people by offering special deals to some and not others. Serrano points out that CGC has also violated the terms of a federal injunction relating to its operations in block 23.

"Who are the real outlaws?" in these cases, he asks.

At stake are the basic rights of indigenous people of the Amazon. These communities have said "No" to oil development on their lands. Will their wishes be respected? Or will excuses be found for militarizing these communities in order to pave the way for oil companies to operate? human rights advocates wonder.

Oil impacted communities have seen such militarization many times before. ChevronTexaco, which controls 50% of Ecuador's block 23, has been accused before of complicity with military repression in the countries in which it operates. The oil giant is a defendant in a US lawsuit for its alleged role in requesting and facilitating intervention by the Nigerian military, which led to the deaths of two activists peacefully protesting against Chevron.

Meanwhile, Texaco's operations have led to massive contamination of the northern part of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Texaco is also a defendant in a class action lawsuit for that contamination and resulting impacts on the health and livelihood of some 30,000 Ecuadorian Indians and campesinos. Amazon Watch estimates that some 350 open toxic pools still remain in the backyards of many indigenous and forest communities. These pools are festering with cancer-causing chemicals including benzene, toluene, arsenic lead, mercury and cadmium, they say.

"This was an environmental crime of epic proportions that has created a black plague of cancer through the Amazon where ChevronTexaco drilled," said Luis Yanza, a community organizer for the Frente de Defensa de Amazonia, during a San Francisco Bay Area tour last December.

The situation in Blocks 23 and 24 can go in a number of directions. The companies might leave their concessions. The indigenous communities might welcome such a retreat, even they are unfairly blamed for the pull out. But this outcome would not suit the government, since it would mean the loss of revenues guaranteed by the concession contract. There is therefore a strong possibility that the force majeure ruling is a prelude to an effort divide and conquer the opposition to oil exploitation.

If police or military presence is increased in blocks 23 and 24, the question will be: are they there to protect the oil companies, or the Amazonian people? Will the rights of the communities -- including the right to say no to oil development -- be respected? Or will the need for oil to pay interest on a crushing external overshadow human rights?

For all the ambiguities and dangers in the current situation, the Ecuadorian government has shown innovation in using the force majeure provision to describe indigenous opposition to violations of their rights. Belatedly, they have officially recognized the movement in defense of indigenous rights as a "major force." They have recognized that the will of indigenous communities is "beyond the control" of the government and the oil companies.

What is not clear is whether this major force will be respected or attacked.

Kenny Bruno is campaigns coordinator for EarthRights International. Until recently he coordinated the UN campaign for CorpWatch and continues to collaborate with the organization.



The Camisea gas project is located in the department of Cuzco in the lower Urubamba river valley, in the Peruvian Amazon, 431 km west of Lima. It is a deposit with four gas wells. Reserves are estimated to be between 11 and 13 Tcf –trillion cubic feet (equivalent to 600 million barrels).

The project is located in the southern Peruvian Amazon rainforest, on indigenous lands, including uncontacted groups, as well as the Nahua ú Kugapakori Reserve.

The project will impact some 14,000 indigenous people in 30 communities, specially in Machiguenga town. It will also affect sacred sites, such as the Pongo de Mainique canyon (a site where bears live, considered as sacred animals) as well as the Community Reserve of Vilcabamba “Pavik Nikitine”. In addition, along the route there is a large quantity of archeological deposits that are part of Peru’s national heritage.

The gas will be extracted from Block 88, which is 230.000 hectares, operated by Pluspetrol.

The gas would be then transported as liquid gas to supply national demand, and eventually Mexico and the United States (specially California), although exportation to Brazil is also being considered. Given the existing reserves, the Peruvian government has qualified it as a project of national priority, since it will turn Peru into the biggest liquid gas exporter in South America. Part of the gas will be used to provide natural gas to Lima for 6 years, to 100,000 inhabitants, even though Lima is a city of several million.

The gas will be transported by the TGP (Gas Transport of Peru), a consortium formed by Tecgas (23.4%), Pluspetrol (operator, 22% - Argentina), the American Hunt Oil (22.2% - United States), Sonatrach (11.09% - Algeria), SK (11.1% - South Korea), Graña and Montero (2% - Peru). Techint is the constructing company. The construction will possibly end in 2004. The transport of gas will start Camisea to Lima and Callao, by way of two gas pipelines: one for natural gas, measuring 714 kilometers, and the other for liquid natural gas, measuring 540 kilometers.

The production phase will be lead by a consortium made up of Pluspetrol (36%), Hunt Oil (36%), SK Corporation (18%) and Tecpetrol (10%). The InterAmerican Development Bank is financing the project in 75 million dollars, along with the Andean Development Corporation (CAF Corporación Andina de Fomento), by 50 Million dollars, and the Chase Manhattan Bank with 25 million dollars, (with the guarantee of the Export-Import Bank –a US Export Credit Agency-). Pluspetrol is conversing with the Export-Import Bank for the financing of 2,7 Billion dollars for the natural gas project in Camisea.


In last August, a delegation of Peruvian and international NGOs, accompanied by the president of the Machiguenga Council of Río Urubamba (COMARI), monitored and investigated the environmental and social impacts of this project, detailed as follows.

Perhaps the most serious denounce registered by the mission is that the company has started forced contact with indigenous groups that live in voluntary isolation in the Nahua ú Kugapakori Reserve. Contact was made by a Pluspetrol Company representative and Machiguenga guides, who announced their presence by using megaphones.

In another instance of forced contact, individuals of these communities yelled at workers to get away. A little while after, the company sent helicopters to scare away the indigenous people.

This constitutes a clear violation of Peruvian legislation and Agreement 169 of the ILO.

Seismic studies have begun in the Reserve by the Canadian company Veritas. Pluspetrol did not the evaluation mission to enter into the camp, but the mission could manage to gather a few testimonies.

Techint has installed a 2 hectare camp in the indigenous community of Chokoari, which will also be affected by 15 km of the pipeline construction, through their communal forests. Great part of these communal forests are located within Block 88. This community has been deeply affected by the presence of oil workers, and cases of violence and prostitution have been reported.

The company takes construction materials from the Cumpurisato River banks, close to the community of Kepashiato. An access road construction has started there. Both activities have been carried out without the authorization of the community, and without and Environmental Impact Study nor a mitigation plan. During the construction, several accidents and deaths of workers have been reported, as well as of and community members due to negligence in operations, such as the 6 workers who died in Kepashiato, because the machinery rolled down a precipice.

Despite environmental regulations indicating that company boats must reduce their speed when passing by indigenous populations, a girl died drowning in the community of Kirigueti, because of a wake left by a boat passing close to her at maximum speed. In reaction, the entire community blocked the river to impede river traffic from passing. The community has forced the company to start a consultative process regarding the responsibility for this accident.

In spite of an EIA and management plans, the company has gone off track many times from the planned road construction paths, entering into communal lands, provoking serious deforestation and erosion. In some areas the company has taken up to 10 meters of soil off thin summit surfaces to allow the broadening of the road path. The fertile soil is then used as filling of thin bottom ditches. The erosion generated by construction has produced mudslides, and has blocked rivers. Erosion has also produced the pollution of potable water in Poyentimari, Monte Carmelo and Simáa communities.

Even though it is against security regulations, there have been repeated situations of helicopters transporting cargo flying over populated areas. The president of the community informed Pluspetrol that heavy boards had fallen in an agricultural area of the community. The materials have still not been collected and helicopters continue to fly over the community, with external cargo.

A large fuel spill occurred in the Urubamba River in the community of Atalaya, from a very big Veritas fuel boat, a Pluspetrol contractor. The capsizing occurred when it tried to pass through a section of shallow water. Six communities that live in the spill´s area of influence have reported a lot of fish deaths. As compensation, Techint has stated that it will employ under qualified community members as trail makers. In spite of this, the local population has complained that the company is still hiring foreign workers, who mistreat the natives and force them to work for much lower salaries compared to what foreigners receive.

In a report issued by SERVINDI, an accusation was made regarding the death of a newborn child and affected with hydrocephalia, which has caused alarm in the population of the Echarate district, province of La Convención - Cuzco. This is the 5th case of a child born with this disease, and the population believes that it is related to the gas development in Camisea. The report also states an increased number of teenage pregnancies.

The Peruvian organizations involved in the case demand independent monitoring of the project.

More information:
Centro para el Desarrollo de Indígena Amazónico - CEDIA
Sources: June 28, 2002 Eryn Gable, Greenwire staff writer
Francisco Olivera. 2002. La Nación
SERVINDI. Servicio de Información Indígena, Novedades indígenas del Perú. 2002. No. 15.
Report of the International NGO Delegation on the Camisea gas project.
Septiembre 2002.


From Oilwatch Network Bulletin "Resistance" Number 35, February 2003

Since December 2001, Venezuela has been living through one of the main political crises of its recent history.  The oil strike and the suspension of hydrocarbon production have struck harshly at the export capacity of that country, and have interrupted the deliveries of the state oil company PDVSA, especially to the United States.

This has caused losses estimated at $50 million a day.

In a context of “pre-war” in Iraq, the Venezuelan situation concerns the United States, and thus it has increased its pressure in a subtle way, for example through the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Cesar Gaviria, in favor of the immediate organization of elections, on the margins of the constitutional framework.


At the moment, the opposition is demanding the “resignation” of the president in power.  In the area of oil, the opposition is calling for the privatization of Venezuelan oil.

This is reflected in a document known as “Proyecto País” (“Project Nation”), presented to Venezuelan public opinion by the opposition Coordinadora Democrática (Democratic Coordinating Body)

Among the most notable aspects of the plan is the opening of the state company  "Petróleos de Venezuela" (PDVSA) and other energy sector bodies, to private investment, and also the privatization of all electric companies.

The elimination of state ownership over the gas industry is another of the proposals made by the groups opposed to president Hugo Chávez.

Finally, they are proposing to abandon the existing system of oil production, linked to the agreements of the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) and to the maintenance of prices of crude on the international market.  In contrast, they are arguing for an unlimited production that could reach more than 11 million barrels a day, something rejected by the current government for its damaging effect on prices.


Venezuelan oil reserves are of vital importance for international oil capital: its reserves in the Orinoco Strip are on comparable in volume to the proven world reserves of conventional crude in Saudi Arabia (270 thousand million barrels).  To ensure their control is thus vital for highly oil-dependent economies such as the United States.

The conservative Senator and speaker on the theme of Plan Colombia, Coverdell, declared in April 2000 that “in order to control Venezuela it is necessary to intervene militarily in Colombia” and, by extension, in Latin America. Colombia would play a similar role to that played by Israel in the Middle East: to become a US enclave in the region.

There is no doubt that the harsh situation that is being experienced today in Venezuela (and Colombia) has as its background once again the control of Venezuelan oil reserves.

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January 13, 2003

The Environmental Federation of Zulia addresses the country in order to denounce the plan of environmental terrorism, which, along with the insurrectional oil strike, the privatized sectors are currently carrying out, led by a technocratic group, which has recently occupied posts of high management in the state company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A, (PDVSA). 

In the waters of Lake Maracaibo ­ home of the main oil activity of the West, - this group carried out, in a partially unsuccessful way, a macabre plan of oil sabotage, intended to cause an environmental catastrophe of unimaginable proportions, in the form of a huge oil spill.  In this horrendous terrorist plan are involved a group of technical officials and managers, contracted companies and politicians aligned to the “Democratic” Coordinating Body.  According to this Federation, a fake spokesperson in this machination was the governor of Zulia State, who, in accordance with what was planned, decreed a supposed “Environmental Emergency”, to accompany this destabilizing and anti-environmental plan in an alarming manner.

The simple aim of this plan has been not only to undermine the capacity for starting up oil operations affected by the paralization of work, but also to make visible that “unprecedented pollution damages are taking place in Lake Maracaibo”.  With this, they are trying to incite panic in the Zuliana population, besides seeking the general repudiation by the Venezuelans due to the dangers that all this can cause.  In order to achieve this, the said saboteurs carried out innumerable damages and destruction to oil equipment, paralization of machinery, overturning of systems, breakdown of equipment, abandoning of the work of risk prevention, and the use of specialized sophisticated systems in order to cause oil spills, with the same technological operating style as that of the technocracy of the coup.

They aligned the systems that regulate the levels of petroleum to impede the overflowing of crude.  Many of the valves of these stations, which usually remain blocked to avoid spills of crude ­ were deliberately unblocked, in order to favor the overflowing of the tanks.  In the flow stations, the oil collecting trays  which serve as containers or barriers to prevent spills ­ appeared to have been deliberately perforated or destroyed in order to allow the spilling of oil into the Lake.

The sabotage of the transport system ­ composed of motor launches and towing barges to move tanker boats, among other vessels ­ appeared damaged and with its operations deliberately paralyzed, in forms such as breakdowns caused to the electric systems and machinery rooms, damages to the vessels’ ignition systems, to cause their entrapment.  They premeditatedly caused the immobilization of boats, thus sabotaging their use.  Some launches had their radio transmission systems damaged, with the particular intention of this sabotage being the impeding of the use of the ships used for clean up of spills.

Other examples of criminal oil sabotage consisted in the deliberate ruining of automated filling systems, causing losses of property, environmental damages and fraud to public confidence, in addition to the destabilizing political consequences to social peace, actions which are broadly denounced and repudiated, and which must be energetically punished, with those responsible obliged to repay the damages caused.  For the Federation it is important to emphasize that, just when oil slicks were appearing in the surroundings of sabotaged oil installations in the Lake ­ planned and directed by the saboteurs ­the “denouncements” by the personnel of the “Oil People” and the regional governor began. 

The daily monitoring network of Lake Maracaibo carried out by this Federation ­ composed of fishermen, workers and oil professionals, and some qualified employees of PDVSA directly linked to Security, Hygiene and Environment (SHA) - have offered unofficial and current information as to the environmental situation of the oil installations of the western and eastern coasts, in the areas of influence in the Northern and Central zones, in adjacent riverine areas, which lend credibility to the information in the denouncements, where they detail the damage caused to the oil installations in the Lake.  For more than three decades, they have been denouncing the chronic crude spills in the area.

The unmasking of the oil technocracy who directed the sabotage of these installations, with the “public management” of information on the spill in the Lake, is deepened by the lies of Minister Ana Elisa Osorio (MARN) concerning the declaration of “environmental emergency” by Governor Rosales, and in the necessity of reversing the situation of the opaqueness of a PDVSA which has become technocratically an unsupervisable  “black box”, in order to transform it from now onwards into a “glass box”, through a re-nationalization which must be carried out starting with administrative clean-up which uproots the technical “staff” inclined to this technocratic and anti-environmental management of the oil sector.

The strong resistance offered by the technocratic elites in the oil sector is seeking to hinder the governmental management of hygiene, security and environment.  In the environmental plan, groups such as these have historically sustained the so-called “oil meta-state”, which has been described by investigators such as Gastón Parra Luzardo and Carlos Mendoza Potellá, as also in other sectors (Asopetroleros) in their questioning of the leaders of the coup which until recently occupied PDVSA, denouncing the “pseudo-environmental” expressions of its liberal and technocratic policy of oil Opening, without effective mechanisms of environmental protection and oversight in the clauses relating to the agreements for the exploration and exploitation of oil areas.  In the name of an ambiguous discourse of “Freedom” this leadership left up to transnational investors “self-control” and exclusive control over their own environmental studies.  In order to sustain neoliberalism in the environmental laws of Venezuela, in practice they left the protection of ecosystems to the individual discretion of the investors.

Remembering the precursors of conservationism during the first half of the last century (Henry Pittier and Arturo Eichler among others), who strongly advocated the necessity of creating institutional mechanisms, measures and environmental policies that would cover the sovereign necessity of our country to protect natural ecosystems included in the territory of our Nation, these precursors condemned the fact that the elites and ruling classes have not taken such environmental concerns into more account, - those which have arisen from our own soil.  Thus, those elites facilitated a prolonged epoch of environmental destruction, carried out through an unsustainable oil technology, with the complacency of successive dictatorial regimes, until the US energy markets demanded from Venezuela oil with less sulfur to clean the atmosphere for their population.

All this outside inducement translated into the so-called “chucuta nationalization” (1976-77) which enthroned the management of oil fraud ­ and later sabotage -, which finally brought about a negotiation to increase environmental liabilities in Venezuela, - and especially in Lake Maracaibo.

For all the reasons explained above, the Federation rejects the criminal threat that the plan to sabotage oil installations signifies for the Lake Maracaibo Basin, carried out by the technological boycott groups of the old management of PDVSA, it denounces the “use of environmental contamination” as a political weapon and as a work of terrorism, which is no more than attempts at ecocide and at contemptible environmental crimes, in no way different in nature from the terrorist blowing up of the oil pipelines, or the voluntary setting on fire of oil wells, deliberate actions which cause environmental risks of inestimable scope, including prolonged damages to the natural environment. 

The federation also denounces that this whole chain of events of sabotage, following an orchestrated alarmist campaign which has caused enormous anguish among the Zulianas ­ with cruel effects among the child population ­ forms part of one same chain of events of sabotage.  These events run the serious risk of provoking accidents which massively threaten the integrity of the populations adjacent to the industrial installations or vehicles, a chain initiated with the cases of the oil ships on Maracaibo, the sabotage of the gasoline and gas fillers, and also the criminal paralization of the Petrochemical installations.

The Federation demands an immediate administrative clean up operation and the rooting out of the technicians who are still found in the sector, which has been complicit in the anti-environmental management of the old PDVSA.   It denounces the hypocritical “unmasking” on the part of certain “environmental” foundations and organizations in the face of the oil spills of this supposed “environmental disaster” denounced by the regional Governor, because they recognize that some of these supposed “environmental” organization have corporations who are polluting the environment among their members.  These corporations are offering them financing, - and have come disguised behind the false discourse of the oil technocracy, - which in its turn uses them to “wash” and legitimize its unsustainable “management”.  Many of these organizations are looking to ignore the reality that is directly experienced in Maracaibo, where the oil spills that happened in the Lake have been common events, but as they have never before carried out sustained campaigns to expose the situation, these corporations and organizations “are now shining” as part of the alarmist plan of the regional governor, current ally of the “Democratic” Coordinating Body.

Finally, the Zuliana Environmental Federation commits itself to the recuperation from PDVSA of the costs of social and environmental rehabilitation of the sovereign Venezuelan Nation, actively promoting a new and authentic community and environmental profile for PDVSA, for the transition toward a Venezuela and a Planet where Energy is not a source of death and suffering for living beings. 



Corporate Social Responsibility Report, 2004 from Atlantic LNG.  "Towards Sustainable Development"

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