THE AMAZONIAN OIL WARS by Gina Hamilton 880 words
A new phase of devastation has taken hold in the depths of the Amazon, as oil
exploration increasingly reaches it's slimy hands into one of the world's highest
Despite strong local and international opposition, a new oil pipeline running through northern Ecuador is just about finished.
Ecuador's external debt is at record levels, the highest of any country in South America. Whilst oil production doubles, the debt increases - quality of life worsens, environment destroyed.
The OCP (Heavy Crude Pipeline) consortium consists of 7 multinational oil companies led by Canada's Encana (31.4%), by Germanys WestLB and Citibank.
NGO's in Canada, Spain, USA, Italy, Germany, and in Ecuador itself have campaigned against the construction of the pipeline. In Ecuador in 2002, activists held up work for months with the first tree-sit blockade in S American history. In Germany, Greenpeace and other activists protesting the financing of OCP by WestLB have done many protests resulting in parliamentary hearings.
So far they have failed to prevent the pipeline's completion, but have succeeded in raising awareness around the world about the impact of oil on the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Over the last 30 years the existing SOTE pipeline has ruptured many times, spilling 16.8 million gallons of oil into river s and local communities. The latest was in April 2003, when 10 000 barrels of oil poured into the Papallacta Lagoon, Quito's water supply. PetroEcuador blame OCP construction machinery.
According to a report by Robert Goodland (who worked in the World Bank environmental department for 25 years) OCP have failed to comply with the World Bank social and environmental standards in regards to construction, environmental assessment and compensation.
The pipeline traverses ridge tops along steep mountain terrain, amongst active volcanoes and through lush, unique forest eco-systems, threatening many water ways, the lives of indigenous peoples and numerous endangered species.
Pollution caused by oil spills over the years remains, money for clean ups (when responsibility is admitted) disappears, as corruption rules and the threat of violence looms large over protests.
Oil companies are hoping to drill new wells in Yasuni and Cuyabeno National Parks and many other reserves and indigenous areas in the Amazon headwaters to fill the new pipeline..
Worldwide, people are rallying to support the Shuar, Achuar, Huaorani, Quichua, Shiwiar and Zapara indigenous communities, and the pristine forests of Ecuador's southern Amazon region. They've seen oil exploitation devastate their health and their culture and want no more of it
WHAT YOU CAN DO
· Juan Pablo Barragan, a brilliant Ecuadorian film-maker/activist has just completed a 35-minute campaign video about the issue. "Amazon Oil Pipeline: Pollution, Corruption and Poverty" has been produced in 6 languages in order to educate activists and enable them to confront the companies in their home countries. Please order a copy of this video to screen to your community or friends followed by email/letter-writing sessions to the oil companies, banks and the IMF.
Contact the Rainforest Information Centre (RIC), www.rainforestinfo.org.au email@example.com and they will send you updates and Urgent Action Alerts about the issue. See also www.accionecologica.org/petroleo.htm (Spanish only) and www.amazonwatch.org/megaprojects/ocp_ecuad.html
Learn more about the N American angle on this issue at http://www.globalaware.org/Index_CD_eng.html
See Globalaware's slideshow at http://www.globalaware.org/Front%20Page.htm
* Please write emails, faxes and letters of protest about OCP.
No matter how short our letters are, they are counted. If enough of us make ourselves heard, things will change.
1. Please write to the US office of German Bank WestLB asking them to pull out of the OCP project and demand that OCP immediately repay the 900 million dollars they have loaned to OCP. One of the contractual conditions for this loan was that OCP adhere to World Bank standards for protection of nature and of indigenous communities. OCP has blatantly and continuously breached this contract (see www.rainforestinfo.org.au/ocp/goodland.htm)
West LB, Regional Head of Structured Finance Americas, Mr. Manfred Knoll, 1211
Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, USA
Ph: +1 212 852 6250 Fax: +1 212 852 6232
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please write EnCana, the Canadian oil company that leads the consortium with
34% - the biggest stake in OCP:
Gwyn Morgan, Chief Executive Officer, EnCana Corporation, PO Box 2850, Calgary, Alberta T2P 2S5, Canada
Phone: +1 403 645 2000 Fax: +1 403 645 3400
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
* Please write to the President of Ecuador, demanding:
- the cancellation of the contract between the Ecuadorian government and the OCP because of human rights violations ,environmental impacts and breach of contract (world bank guidelines not followed).
- That Ecuador declare a moratorium on new oil and gas concessions in the Amazon, in particular those on indigenous territories and protected areas.
Presidente Lucio Gutiérrez,
Calle García Moreno y Chile,
Ph: +593 22 580833 Fax: +593 22 580748
* Please contact the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and tell them you want them to cancel Ecuador's debt in exchange for Ecuador protecting the Amazon forests and indigenous people.
International Monetary Fund, Attn. Horst Koehler, Managing Director,
700 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20431, USA
Ph: +1 202 623 7300 Fax: +1 202 623 6278
firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com
Anoop Singh, Director of the Western Hemisphere Department, IMF
Ph: +1 202 623 6222 Fax: +1 202 623 7499