Worldwide Protests Wednesday 24/10 Against Oil Pipeline In Amazon Headwaters

October 24, 2001

Environment groups worldwide are working to stop the construction of the $1.1 billion OCP oil pipeline which is planned to carry crude oil from the Ecuadorian Amazon over the Andes and to the Pacific coast. The OCP consortium is comprised of Alberta Energy (Canada), Kerr McGee (USA), Occidental Petroleum (USA), AGIP (Italy), Perez Companc (Argentina), Repsol-YPF (Spain) and Techint (Argentina).

International protests will rage across the world tomorrow to protest the financing of the pipeline by the Westdeutsche Landesbank Bank (WestLB), the largest German Bank who say they will invest over US$900 million in the project. Rallies will be held outside West LB offices in Sydney, Los Angeles, Washington DC, London, Quito, Munster, Dusseldorf, Munich, Zurich, Milan, Barcelona and Amsterdam. In Canberra, there will be a protest at the German Embassy.

John Seed, Director of the Rainforest Information Centre and organiser of the protests says, "It's outrageous! If completed, the OCP pipeline would double the amount of oil that can be removed from the Amazon headwaters by putting new oil wells in the Yasuni and Cuyabeno national parks and the Limoncocha and PaƱacocha Biological Reserves. Do we want to live in a world where the oil industry and international financiers are allowed to destroy the very womb of life, the rainforests, home to half of the world's species of plants and animals? These places are sacred and deserve to have their environmental protection status upheld by the international community, not desecrated!."

"The project would also fuel the search for additional oil reserves covering 2.4 million hectares of frontier forest, the majority of which falls on the ancestral territories of Achuar, Shuar, Huaorani, Quichua, Shiwiar, and Zapara indigenous communities. Many of these communities have vowed to never permit oil development on their land. We must hold WestLB accountable to destruction and human rights violations that it plans to finance."

"WestLB should not fund this project that would never be approved in Germany because of its uncontrollable danger to the life of the population and its catastrophic effects on environment. The communities effected by the project has never been consulted about this project."
"It is astonishing to plan a pipeline route that will go through an earthquake zone.! The existing SOTE pipeline, with a route similar to that proposed for the OCP, has ruptured on 48 occasions causing the death of 30 people and spilling 74 million litres of crude oil into rivers, rainforests and farmland."

On October 11, Ecuadorian NGO's Accion Ecologica (Friends of the Earth Ecuador), Oilwatch and Fundacion Puntos Verdes started blockading the bulldozers building the pipeline at Mindo where the pipeline route cuts through the middle of the Nambillo Cloudforest Reserve, home to more than 450 species of birds---46 of which are threatened by extinction --and has been designated the first "Important Bird Area" of South America by Birdlife International. (see www.forests.org/ric/Projects/OCP/october_11.htm for the story and photos of the action).

In Sydney, the protest is being organised by the Rainforest Information Centre, Friends of the Earth and AidWatch and will take place from 1 to 2PM outside WestLB's offices at the Westpac Plaza, 60 Margaret Street by Wynyard Park in the city. A number of speakers will address the assembly including Richard Jones MLA, Greens Senate candidate for NSW Kerry Nettle, Friends of the Earth forests campaigner Tom McLaughlin, Melitta Grant of AidWatch and John Seed of the Rainforest Information Centre.
In the US, the protests are being organised by Amazon Watch, in Ecuador by Accion Ecologica, in Germany by Rettet den Regenwald, in Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK by Friends of the Earth.

There is comprehensive information about this issue at www.amazonwatch.org and about to-morrow's protests at www.forests.org/ric/ .

For further information contact:

Tom McLaughlin
Friends of the Earth
Ph: 02 95676222
Mob: 0410 558838
Email: forest@foesyd.org.au

John Seed
Rainforest Information Centre
PH: 02 93261348
Email: johnseed1@ozemail.com.au

Melita Grant
AIDWATCH
Ph: 02 93875210
Email: mlgrant@ozonline.com.au