Still Sitting In Trees In Ecuador

March 2, 2002

Environmental activists continue to occupy treetops and chain themselves to trees in Ecuador's Amazon jungle as part of the international campaign to block the construction of the OCP crude oil pipeline.

Members of Accion Ecologica/FoE Ecuador and Greenpeace recently toured the pipeline's 600-kilometre route. In the Mindo-Nambillo Cloudforest Reserve, FoE Ecuador activists are participating in what are reportedly South America's first "tree-sits".

In an 20 February IPS article, FoE Ecuador leader Ricardo Buitron said: "This is a passive resistance measure against a project that will cause the death of the forest, of biodiversity, and, in consequence, of the people living in the areas."

The article further pointed out that "Major international environmental groups like Friends of the Earth and Amazon Watch have demonstrated in detail that the pipeline project violates the World Bank's environmental policies and guidelines."

For more information contact:

Ivonne Ramos,
FoE Ecuador,
Email: ivito99@yahoo.com

Background Info:

The situation in Ecuador is getting increasingly serious. Two children have been killed in the last few days after army action against people opposing oil infrastructure. Please see the news items below:

Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 01:54 GMT
Ecuador protests 'kill two children'

Two children have been reported dead in Ecuador following clashes between protesters and soldiers in the north of the country, where the army has been put in charge after protesters disrupted oil production.

Local authorities said two girls died after the army used tear gas to attack demonstrators who had occupied offices in the city of Coca to demand millions of dollars in aid to improve local services.

On Tuesday, President Gustavo Noboa ordered the military to re-establish government control of two northern Amazon provinces, on the border with Colombia.

Protesters there had taken over oil wells and set up road blocks, virtually paralysing the production and distribution of oil - one of Ecuador's main exports.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service:

Ecuador Sends Army to Protect Pipeline Work
Oil Daily Thursday, February 28, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 Energy Intelligence Group, Inc.)

Ecuador's President Gustavo Noboa last year promised to "bring war" to anyone who tried to stop construction of a new 450,000 barrel-per-day oil pipeline, including environmentalists and community protesters.

Noboa has now followed through on that promise, putting two oil-producing provinces, Sucumbios and Orellana, under army control on Wednesday, after earlier declaring a state of emergency.

Noboa's moves followed protests by local inhabitants seeking "development funds" from the pipeline builders. They took over oil wells and government offices, forcing state Petroecuador to cut output by 40,000 b/d, to 190,000 b/d.

Despite the presence of troops, "the movement is massive and as we recover one well, they take over another," complained Petroecuador chief Rodolfo Barniol. The consortium building the new OCP pipeline said it had already made provision for community assistance.

The community protests follow earlier protests by environmentalists who want the route of the line changed to protect the Mindo rain forest. Protestors blocked construction and made direct appeals to banks financing the project (OD Feb.8,p9).

The OCP line is crucial to free up foreign oil production that has been shut in by infrastructure constraints.

Both the government and the private consortium remain optimistic that the pipeline will be ready to take heavy oil from the jungle interior to the Pacific Ocean for export by 2003.

The OCP group comprises Canada's Alberta Energy, US Occidental, Argentine Perez Companc (Pecom Energia), Spanish Repsol YPF, Italian ENI, and Argentine Techint. French firm Perenco is also a member, having bought US firm Kerr-McGee's share.
Petroecuador expects to increase its own crude output by 15.9% this year to 263,300 b/d, allowing it to make full use of the existing Sote pipeline as foreign companies move oil through the OCP pipeline. Its exports are expected to rise 14.4% to 148,500 b/d.

Production for all of Ecuador, including private companies, is projected to grow by 5.7% in 2002, to 430,000 b/d, and crude exports to increase 9.7% to 270,300 b/d, a Petroecuador official said.

To achieve the goals, the state company has set a $1.75 billion budget of this year. The year has not gotten off to a good start, however. Petroecuador said its January crude oil exports fell by 2.1%, to 113,270 b/d, from 115,700 b/d a month earlier.

Peter Gall