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Cabrera’s Report: The Significant Flaws

Date: Feb 12, 2010

Earlier in the week it was revealed that the author of a report recommending Chevron pay $27 billion in damages has a conflict of interest that he illegally hid from the court. As it turns out, Richard Cabrera, the report’s author, is the majority owner of an oil field remediation company in Ecuador that stands to gain financially from a judgment against Chevron.

Cabrera has suggested a wholly illegitimate and unsubstantiated damage recommendation against Chevron in excess of $27 billion. Cabrera was not only paid solely by the plaintiffs, but he openly relied on them to staff his effort while seeking to obstruct Chevron’s representatives from even observing his work. In fact, major portions of his submissions to the court are cribbed from the plaintiffs’ own submissions, if not written by them directly. His work product is devoid of scientific content, lacks even the most basic evidentiary support, and assesses monetary relief for alleged environmental damage and health claims he has never even bothered to investigate, inspect, or verify.

In addition to those outlined above, below is a list of other Cabrera Report flaws:

Lack of Causation

Cabrera completely ignored his court-ordered mandate to determine causation and chronology of environmental conditions. Instead, he just arbitrarily assigned liability to Texaco for every instance of alleged environmental impact in the former concession areas. By ignoring chronology and causation, Cabrera even makes Texaco liable for environmental impact caused solely by Petroecuador in the last 20 years.

Failure to Inspect and Falsifying “Evidence”

Cabrera ignored court orders that he must inspect every site, visiting only 48 of 316 wells and one of 19 production stations. Instead, Cabrera reviewed aerial photos to identify pits and used those photos incompetently and dishonestly. For example, Cabrera submitted certain aerial photos with his report and declared that various items in the photos — like trees, tanks and shadows — were pits. He also submitted photos of pits constructed by Petroecuador after 1990, backdated the photos to the 1970s and declared that the pits were constructed earlier by Texaco Petroleum. Cabrera, therefore, fraudulently overstated the number of pits.

Arbitrary Determination of Remediation Scope

With no justification, Cabrera arbitrarily concluded that 80 percent of well pits and 100 percent of production station pits need to be remediated, regardless of past or current remediation efforts. Cabrera then further fabricated and overstated the magnitude of remediation required for each pit, arbitrarily assuming that each pit needs to be remediated to a depth of four meters (13.12 ft) and that an additional area around each pit equal to 50 percent of the pit surface area also needs to be remediated.

Gross Overstatement of Remediation Cost

Cabrera grossly overstated the cost to remediate pits. Though Petroecuador has been remediating pits to Ecuador standards for approximately $85,000 per pit, Cabrera recommends remediation costs of $2.743 billion — over 150 times the Petroecuador budget of $18 million for this work.

For more information on other elements contained within Cabrera’s $27 billion damage report, please use the following hyperlinks.

It is clear the Ecuadoran court handling the lawsuit against Chevron has abandoned the due process guarantees mandated by Ecuadorian law, eliminated the plaintiffs’ burden of proof, and substituted in its place the work of Richard Cabrera. Chevron has consistently argued that it is not getting a fair trial in Ecuador. Evidence presented to the court shows Texaco Petroleum’s remediation was thorough and complete. The Amazon Defense Front has teamed up with the government of Ecuador to try to shift the liability of Petroecuador to Chevron by pressuring the company into an unjust settlement using a biased and improperly influenced court and a partisan and unqualified “independent” analyst.