International Alliance Vows to Intensify Opposition in Eight Countries to
  Ecuador's OCP Oil Pipeline

 Amazon Pipeline Downgraded by Moody's: Criticized Again by the World Bank

 Sassenberg, Germany --- Representatives from more than forty
 non-governmental organizations from eight countries, along with German
 parliamentarians and political party activists, concluded a 3-day summit
 today in Sassenberg on the growing environmental and social problems caused
 by the new oil pipeline in Ecuador--one of the World's most controversial
 projects. The participants vowed to intensify the international campaign
 against the Ecuador Heavy Crude Oil Pipeline (Oleoducto Crudos Pesados,

 The OCP pipeline has been embroiled in protests since it broke ground more
 than 15 months ago. In October 2002, one of the two financial rating
 agencies for the project, Moody's, downgraded the OCP's investment rating to
 borderline junk status (Baa3) citing, inter alia, growing environmental,
 political and economic risks.

 The participants of the Summit made plans for stepping up the campaign in
 the home countries of the OCP consortium members, which include: EnCana
 (Canada, 31.4% share), Repsol-YPF (Spain, 25.6%), Pecom Energia (Argentina,
 15%), Occidental Petroleum (U.S., 12.2%), ENI-AGIP (Italy, 7.5%), Techint
 (Argentina, 4.1%), Perenco (UK, 4.0%).  The international campaign will also
 step up efforts to urge withdrawal of financial support for OCP  by  an
 international consortium of banks, insurance companies and pension funds
 from Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Portugal and the United
 States.  Any further deterioration in the financial rating of OCP could lead
 to withdrawal of US insurance companies and pension fund investors, which
 legally cannot maintain large holdings in debt securities rated below
 'investment grade.'

 OCP would transport heavy crude from Ecuador's biodiversity rich Amazon
 rainforest region to the Pacific Coast. The pipeline route cuts through
 seven legally protected national parks and reserves, including a World Bank
 financed biodiversity project. In order to fill OCP, oil production is
 expected to double in Ecuador, with tremendous impacts on indigenous peoples
 and intact forests in the Amazon rainforest as well as along the 300-mile
 pipeline corridor to the sea.

 The International NGO meeting took place in the province of North Rhine
 Westphalia in Germany because of growing public outrage over the
 environmental and social negligence of the lead syndicator of the OCP loans,
 the West Deutsche Landesbank (West LB). West LB is 43% owned by the
 provincial government of North Rhine Westphalia.

 Groups taking part in the meeting reviewed evidence of continuing
 environmental, social, and human rights abuses associated with the pipeline.
 Despite a growing public protest over the past year, OCP and West LB as well
 as major financial partners such as the Italian Banca Nazionale del Lavoro
 have continued to ignore basic good international practice concerning the
 environment and social impacts.

 West LB has publicly stated several times that compliance by OCP with World
 Bank standards is a condition of its financing which, if violated, could
 trigger a recall of the OCP loans. The summit participants noted that on
 November 7, 2002, two Vice Presidents of the World Bank wrote Andy
 Patterson, OCP CEO, reiterating that OCP should either stop claiming
 compliance with World Bank standards, or obtain independent verification of
 compliance, which to date not occurred.

 "The public needs to know that West LB, OCP and finance consortium banks
 such as the Italian Banca Nazionale del Lavouro (BNL), continue to make
 blatantly false statements that the pipeline meets World Bank environmental
 standards. Such statements directly contradict several independent field
 studies over the past six months which all documented massive violations of
 World Bank guidelines," said Bruce Rich of Environmental Defense, a major US

 In response to the egregious lack of environmental and social due diligence
 by OCP and West LB, the Sassenberg summit is vowing to escalate the
 international civil society campaign to alert investors, governments and
 financial rating agencies to the growing financial and reputational risks
 of this project. The Sassenberg Summit condemned the OCP Consortium's
 attempts to hastily complete pipeline construction, a move which has led to growing
 protests by groups in Ecuador as well as in countries where the consortium
 companies and supporting banks have their headquarters.

 The Sassenberg International Civil Society Stakeholders' meeting took place
 at the same time as OCP organized a closed door event in Coral Gables
 Florida that OCP has called a "stakeholders' scoping meeting."

 "All of the Sassenberg participants agreed that the Florida meeting was just
 the latest of OCP's misrepresentations and evasions. Most of the civil
 society  stakeholder groups who have been involved in this issue were in the
 Sassenberg event --- groups with more than a million members from Ecuador
 and seven other countries," said Jaroslava Colajacomo, a delegate from the
 OCP campaign led by twelve major Italian groups, including Greenpeace and
 Friends of the Earth Italy.  The Italian Campaign will intensify protests
 against Italian OCP financer BNI and Consortium member ENI-AGIP.

 Natalia Arias, representing Accion Ecologica, an Ecuadorian national
 environmental organization, said "we came here to support the rapidly
 expanding international campaign that will carry the concerns of affected
 groups in Ecuador who are demanding that investors withdraw from such an
 environmentally and socially risky project."

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