Oil and Gas in Latin America
On each topic, the articles are in chronological order.
Gas Pipelines Around the World
The OilWatch Network Bulletin: Resistance No 33
|The route of the SOTE is of high seismic risk|
|The earth along a large part of the route is very soft and vulnerable|
|Only 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|
|During the time in which it was in charge of the operation, Texaco produced a spill of more than 18 billion gallons of crude|
|In 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:
|Opposes completely the construction of the OCP|
|Opposes the extraction of heavy crude|
|Opposes petroleum extraction in protected areas|
|Opposes 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
Enviado por: email@example.com
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.”
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. firstname.lastname@example.org Acción Ecológica
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, email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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: Sarayacu@sarayacu.com
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.
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.
Centro para el Desarrollo de Indígena Amazónico - CEDIA Cediaemail@example.com
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.
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.
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"
The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)