May 22, 2001 – The Ecuadorian Government has approved the OCP consortium’s bid for the construction of a pipeline that will cross over the country from East to West, seriously affecting areas of high environmental fragility and of great ecological and agricultural importance for the country.
This 500 kilometre pipeline will be used for the transportation of bad quality heavy crude oil. The majority of the transported crude will come from the YasunÌ National Park, from the last petroleum block that the oil industry has not yet bid for. Thus it is the last unspoilt corner of the most important National Park in Continental Ecuador, which is in turn the home of the Huaorani tribe.
Additionally, it will expand the petroleum frontier in the Amazon forests in South Ecuador, which until now have had little disturbance from the outside, in the Quichua, Shuar and Achuar indigenous territories.
OCP Ecuador is a partnership formed by AGIP, Alberta, Kerr McGee, Occidental, YPF, Perez Company and Techint. The constructing company will be the Argentinean company Techint, which has a abominable environmental history. The cost is higher than US$1 billion. According to various sources, this price is overvalued as the price of the same pipeline in 1999 was US$400 million. The difference in price – on a long term basis – will be paid by the country.
The pipeline route was approved without an environmental impact study, as is required by the country’s Environmental Management Law. There was also no consultation process with the affected people, as required by the national Constitution. After the project was approved, the consultancy firm ENTRIX had only two months to fulfill an environmental impact assessment on a route that will pass through extremely complex ecosystems.
The pipeline goes across all of Ecuador’s fault lines, a total of 94 , and various active volcanoes are in the route, including the Reventador, Antisana, Complejo Volcanico of Chacama, Guagua Pichincha and Pululahua. Of special concern at the present time is the Guagua Pichincha, which recently entered a process of eruption. A violent eruption will risk exposure of the pipeline to ashes, landslide and pyroplastic material.
The route of the pipeline goes across vulnerable lands with danger of erosion; in regions of high rainfall with frequent landslides. A section of the pipeline crosses over an area of fragile lands with a high concentration of schools, putting children at risk.
The pipeline will also pass through other fragile areas of great ecological importance, cutting through areas where streams and rivers begin, top-quality agricultural areas, places with unsteady lands and seismic activity, primary tropical forests, and so forth. Almost 40 towns will be affected by the pipeline.
The proposed pipeline route also cuts through the Mindo Valley, which many ornithologists consider as the capital of the bird world as it is an area that has the greatest concentration of birds in South America. The pipeline will destroy important faunal corridors, affecting local fauna. Local people depend on subsistence income from livestock and tourism, and both activities will be seriously affected by the construction and future functioning of the pipeline. The pipeline also goes through other protected areas and parks that prevent erosion in the Andean foothills.
The proximity of Colombia adds an additional risk to the OCP, considering that more than 760 threats to this country’s pipeline have occurred over the last 10 years. With the participation of Ecuador in Plan Colombia and the worsening of violence in that country, the pipeline could constitute an important military target. In fact, during the last year four threats to the Trans-Ecuadorean Pipeline System – SOTE – have occurred.
Ecuador has suffered the impacts of poorly planned pipelines such as SOTE, built 30 years ago by Texaco, which has collapsed several times, causing deaths due to fires along its route.
Acción Ecológica/FoE Ecuador has promoted the moratorium to the expansion of the petroleum frontier in the tropics for several years, and the crude oil that will be transported by this pipeline will be extracted from the last bastion of virgin Amazonian tropical rainforest in Ecuador.
We call the upon people and organizations that believe that the Amazon should survive to support this campaign against the construction of this pipeline, and the expansion of the last virgin jungles of the Ecuadorean Amazonia.
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