Ecuador Reduces Plan for New Oil Blocks in Amazon Rainforest Under Pressure from Indigenous Peoples

New limited auction of remote blocks still threatens indigenous territories, contrary to Hydrocarbon Minister's claim

Amazon Watch

For more information, contact:

Moira Birss at +1.510.394.2041 or moira@amazonwatch.org
Kevin Koenig at +1.415.726.4607 or kevin@amazonwatch.org


Oakland, CA – Ecuador's Hydrocarbon Minister Carlos Pérez unexpectedly announced that the oil auction planned for the end of 2018 would be reduced from the original sixteen blocks to two, as leaders of Ecuador's Amazonian indigenous nationalities gathered outside of the country's annual Energy, Mining, and Oil conference yesterday to denounce previous plans by the government to tender sixteen new oil blocks in some of the country's last roadless, intact rainforest.

As soon as the sixteen new oil blocks slated for the Ronda Suroriente auction were announced earlier this year, the seven indigenous nationalities whose titled territories overlap with those blocks announced their opposition and decried the government's failure to properly conduct Free, Prior, and Informed Consent with local communities. The previous opposition of these indigenous nationalities to oil drilling has led to the departure of multiple companies, including ConocoPhillips, ARCO, Burlington Resources, Perence, and CGC.

And indeed, Minister Pérez cited "conflict with communities" as the reason for the 14-block, 2.8 million acre reduction in the upcoming auction. Yet Pérez alleged that no problem existed in auctioning the remaining two blocks, 86 and 87, because, "there aren't any indigenous [people] there." However, the two blocks, located along the Peruvian border, overlap with the titled territory of the Sapara, Shiwiar, and Kichwa nations, as indicated in this map.

Amazon Watch's Kevin Koenig made the following statement about the government's plans to reduce the oil blocks offered in the Suroriente Oil Round:

"The shelving of the majority of the oil blocks in the Amazon that the government had intended to auction is a major victory for Ecuador's indigenous peoples. Adamant community opposition and the government's failure to properly consult with affected indigenous nations has finally forced the government to at least partially recognize the obvious – oil drilling in the Amazon is a bad investment for companies as well as disastrous for affected communities and the rainforest.

"As the latest IPCC report made incredibly clear, the expansion of the fossil fuel frontier, especially in a critical ecosystem like the Amazon rainforest, is also the opposite of the approach needed to survive the climate crisis. Rather than pursue more drilling, Ecuador should embrace this opportunity to join other climate leaders in ending new oil extraction and begin a managed decline of existing production.

"Companies and investors should also take heed: the history of successful community opposition in the Amazon and the urgent need for climate action also put their bottom lines and their reputations at risk."

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