Is Chevron Being Unfairly Treated?
Thanks for the guest post by Joseph Archibald
The question is – is Chevron being unfairly treated in the lawsuit brought about by the Ecuador government against it for supposed environmental damage in the Amazonian delta? Chevron conducted oil extrapolation between 1972 and 1992 within the Ecuadorian Amazon region. In 1992 they sold up to Petroecuador, an oil exploration company run by the Ecuador government. Chevron is currently being sued by the Ecuador government to the tune of $27 billion US dollars for environmental damage to the Amazon delta, the ancestral home to many of the indigenous people who live in the area.
Let’s now consider some other facts.
In 2001, Petroecuador (the Ecuador government oil operation) failed to contain oil which was spilled from an exploratory well which was previously abandoned. In 2009, the same company spilled some 14,000 gallons of oil into the Santa Rosa River. According to Reuters, the river was “completely covered with oil from bank to bank”. The spillage occurred due to Ecuador’s second largest oil pipeline becoming ruptured. Ecuadorian officials have estimated that in the past 18 years, ruptures to major pipelines in the Amazonian region have been responsible for a further discharge of over 16.8 million gallons of oil (http://www1.american.edu/ted/projects/tedcross/xoilpr15.htm).
Not all oil production in the region is carried out by North American companies. Other than Ecuador itself, oil companies have come from Canada, Brazil, China, Venezuela, Colombia and Peru. Thus the real cost of damage caused by oil exploration in the area cannot possibly be pinned on a single company alone.