by David Lincoln, founder of Lincoln's Risk-Registry
It is practically impossible to discuss oil industry impacts in Ecuador without first dealing with the lawsuits by the native peoples against the oil companies.
Here is where it took place
As a result of exploration and production activities in Ecuador between 1972 and 1992, TEXACO/TEXPET [now CHEVRON] has faced several lawsuits stemming from alleged environmental damages. During that period, Texaco produced an average of more than 8 million gallons per day of oil from the Oriente region of the Amazon in Northeastern Ecuador.
Reportedly, the first lawsuit against Texaco was filed on behalf of a half million Ecuadorians soon after Texaco disposed of its oil interests in Ecuador in 1992. The suit was apparently dismissed in January 1994. In November 1993, a $1-billion lawsuit was filed against Texaco for about 30,000 Quechua Indians, who claimed that the oil company had caused irreparable damage to the Oriente rain forest. This suit was reportedly dismissed in November 1996 by the New York federal court. In July 1994, the municipality of Lago Agrio, a small town in the Amazon oil-producing region of northeastern Ecuador, filed a $2 billion lawsuit for alleged environmental damages. Texaco is said to have settled this suit in September 1996 for far less money -- about $1 million -- without any admission of liability.
There is also an Ecuador lawsuit, originally filed in 1993 in New York, which alleges that Chevron dumped 18 billion gallons of toxic waste in Ecuador's rainforest from 1964 to 1992. According to the suit, this threatened multiple indigenous groups with extinction and caused skyrocketing rates of cancer.
The EIA states that in May 1995, Texaco signed an agreement with Ecuador's government to undertake cleanup activities in northeastern Ecuador in return for releasing the company from future responsibility related to its former oil operations. Under the deal, Texaco was to treat polluted water, clean and reforest production sites, build schools and medical centers at three sites, and provide river boats and an airplane to local communities. Texaco also agreed to negotiate with several regional municipalities, including Lago Agrio, which had raised their own claims against the company. In late 1996, Ecuador's Attorney General Leonidas Plaza reportedly attempted to annul this deal, but this attempt failed after President Buckram's government was removed from power.
This lawsuit which was just dismissed on September 8, 2018 by the International Tribunal at the Hague in the Netherlands. According to the BBC, Chevron wins Ecuador rainforest 'oil dumping' case, "the oil giant now stands to be awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in costs by the Hague's Permanent Court of Arbitration." (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-45455984)
It is possible that had the courts allowed testimony of oil field experts (not working with TEXACO/CHEVRON), the Native Tribes (who were the victims in this case) might have been more successful in their claim.
The ruling this month states that Texaco had hired a contractor to clean-up the contaminated area. In truth, the consulting companies sampled less than half of the pits. Many that were partially remediated were completed in only a few weeks.
The chart above shows the Produced Water (millions of bbls/month)
(Image by from the TexPet concession between 1972 and 1992.) Details DMCA
from the TexPet concession between 1972 and 1992.
This shows that TexPet alone discharged over 375 million bbls (more than 15 billion gallons) of Produced Water during the period they operated. Note the shutdown in 1987 was due to the major earthquake in 1987.
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