Myth 5: Texaco Petroleum is solely responsible for the problems in Ecuador’s Oriente region
Chevron is being blamed for a situation that is the sole responsibility of the Ecuadorian government and Petroecuador.
Petroecuador, Ecuador’s state-owned oil company, was the majority partner in the consortium with Texaco Petroleum. Today, Petroecuador still owns and operates the oilfields in the former Concession area as well as other fields in the Amazon. Petroecuador took over consortium operations in 1990 and became the sole owner of the consortium fields and installations when Texaco Petroleum’s concession contract expired in 1992. Since that time, Petroecuador has developed a widely acknowledged record of operational and environmental mismanagement, due to, among other things, widespread corruption, a lack of investment in, or proper maintenance of its equipment and installations, and numerous spills.
Petroecuador’s environmental record is alarming. The company has been responsible for more than 1,400 spills between 2000 and 2008. According to media reports, Petroecuador has spilled over 4.4 million gallons of oil at oil production and storage sites and along its various pipelines.
Meanwhile, Petroecuador has significantly increased the footprint of oil operations within the former consortium fields. For instance, the company has drilled more than 400 new wells since taking over while the consortium operated 321 wells. Likewise, Petroecuador has constructed more than 270 new reserve pits in the last three years alone. All the while, the company has largely ignored its obligations to clean up its portion of the consortium operations based on the remediation agreement with Texaco Petroleum.
Despite Petroecuador’s dismal environmental record, neither the Amazon Defense Coalition nor Amazon Watch has made Petroecuador a focus of their Oriente clean-up campaign, and the plaintiffs and their lawyers have never pursued any legal action against the state oil company. To the contrary, Petroecuador stands to benefit, directly and indirectly, more than any other Ecuadorian entity if the cost for widespread remediation is shifted to Chevron by:
- Forcing Chevron to pay for remediation work that is clearly the responsibility and obligation of Petroecuador, both under the Settlement and Release entered into by Texaco Petroleum, the Government of Ecuador and Petroecuador, and as the sole owner and operator of the former consortium fields for the past two decades.
- Requiring Chevron to refurbish and upgrade Petroecuador’s deteriorating infrastructure even though Texaco Petroleum transferred all of that property to Petroecuador in good operating condition almost 20 years ago and has had no say in any of Petroecuador’s operational decisions since 1992.
See these photographs of Petroecuador’s operations in Ecuador: