Ecuador invites Chinese oil companies to destroy and pollute the Amazon rainforest


Ecuador invites Chinese oil companies to destroy and pollute the Amazon rainforest

By Paul Chung


Image credit: @Sam Beebe, Ecotrust.


Ecuador is eyeing Chinese oil companies as it seeks to auction over 3 million of its 8.1 million hectares of Amazon rainforest territory to investors that would develop and advance the South American nation’s nascent oil industry.

“We had to come to China, which is Ecuador’s major trading partner and we have many common energy projects,” said Ecuador’s minister of Non-Renewable Resources, Wilson Pastor.

Besides China, Pastor also made personal visits to Colombia, France, Singapore, and the United States to seek oil bids.

According to Business Insider, Ecuador owes China some $7 billion (more than one-tenth of Ecuador’s GDP) in debt. China, one of Ecuador’s foremost development financiers, already imports oil from Ecuador.

Meanwhile, indigenous groups and the environment stand to lose the most under any proposed rainforest auction.

Over seven incensed indigenous groups have already voiced their steadfast resistance to the ministry’s plan. “They have not consulted us, and we’re here to tell the big investors that they don’t have our permission to exploit our land,” noted one indigenous women’s leader. Indigenous leaders are asking public and private oil companies to refrain from participating in the bidding process.

As if climate change wasn’t already a significant menace, the Amazon rainforest now braces for some of the world’s most notoriously skilled polluters: resource-hungry Chinese investors.

Source: Shanghai

Amazon Rainforest Up for Auction

Remember when cattle ranching was the biggest threat to the Amazon rainforest? Now add the relentless quest for oil. The Ecuadorian government is currently planning to sell an enormous area of pristine rainforest to oil companies.

PHOTOS: Spectacular New Species Found in Amazon

Ever since I can remember being aware of the Amazon rainforest, my understanding was that big corporations were steadily razing it to make way for cows raised for beef. While illegal cattle ranching continues to be a major threat, oil interests have been hard to keep at bay.

The government in Ecuador made a pitch to Chinese oil companies in Beijing last week as part of an effort to auction off more than three million hectares — that’s more than 11,500 square miles — of Amazonian rainforest. The meeting was the fourth leg of a roadshow to publicize the bidding process. Ecuador’s ambassador to China called the prospective relationship a “win-win,” Jonathan Kaiman reported in the Guardian.

Ecuadorian officials say the oil blocks on offer will be developed under “strict sustainability guidelines,” but opposition groups can already imagine the devastation. Saying no may not be so easy, though. Ecuador owes China nearly $9 billion worth of oil in exchange for past cash loans per the CIA World Factbook.

What’s the worst that could happen? Peruvians have a cautionary tale. The government there just declared an environmental emergency in a remote area of the Amazon that’s home to one of the country’s largest oil fields. In 2001, the Argentinian oil company Pluspetrol took over drilling operations from Occidental Petroleum.

A combination of factors, including lax regulations, led to contamination in the Pastaza river basin near the border with Ecuador. High levels of barium, lead, chrome and petroleum-related compounds have been found in the soil and are poisoning the people who live there, according to the Guardian’s Dan Collyns. Pluspetrol has 90 days to clean it up.

NEWS: First Evidence of Viking-Like ‘Sunstone’ Found

Back in Ecuador, environmental and indigenous groups are fighting the proposed sale. The nonprofit Amazon Watch says that Chinese participation in the auctions would violate green credit guidelines and international law. Even if the groups succeed in blocking the auction, the country’s financial woes won’t go away quickly. Someone will end up paying, and the price may be extremely high.

Photo: Crude oil from a pit that Chevron, formerly Texaco, abandoned in the Ecuadorean Amazon rainforest in 2010. Credit: Caroline Bennett, Rainforest Action Network.

Source: Beta News

Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras

Editorial Committee

David Dunham

Arno Ambrosius

Gustavo López Ospina

Mariana Almeida

Frank Brouwer

Pieter Jan Brouwer

Assistant: Emilia Romero

The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice is associated with the International Environmental Mission, a grass roots citizens movement created by Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.

SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer. 





~ by FSVSF Admin on 1 April, 2013.

2 Responses to “Ecuador invites Chinese oil companies to destroy and pollute the Amazon rainforest”

  1. […] is now in debt to China for around $8.8 billion. And yes, the Ecuadorian government maintains that this won’t affect the future of oil sales […]

  2. […] is now in debt to China for around $8.8 billion. And yes, the Ecuadorian government maintains that this won’t affect the future of oil sales […]

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