Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch

Under Pressure, ConocoPhillips Withdraws from Peru

October 8, 2012

Protest in front of a Conoco service stationConocoPhillips announced today that they are pulling out of Oil Bocks 123 and 129 in the Peruvian Amazon. The company had been under increasing pressure from the local population in Iquitos and the regional government over their plans to drill dozens of exploratory wells in a protected area and fragile Nanay watershed.

The announcement comes just weeks after Canada's Talisman Energy announced their withdrawal from Peru, including controversial Block 64 where Talisman had been drilling exploratory wells without the consent of the majority of Achuar people living within the oil block.

Oil Blocks 123 and 129 overlap the Upper Nanay – Pintuyacu – Chambira Regional Conservation Area. These headwaters provide over 90% of the drinking water to 500,000 residents of the city of Iquitos and neighboring villages, and contain fragile white-sand ecosystems, black-water flooded forests, and numerous endemic species. In response to ConocoPhillip's plans to drill two exploratory wells this year inside the protected area thousands of people have taken to the streets in Iquitos and the President of the regional government of Loreto directly requested that ConocoPhillips cease operations.


Belo Sun Mining Sets Sights on Golden Opportunity in the Xingu

October 5, 2012 | Christian Poirier

Belo Sun's massive mining concession stretches from the Big Bend across the Bacaja river, skirting indigenous territories

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Send a message to Chief Justice Ayres Britto today calling on him to maintain the suspension of the
Belo Monte Dam.

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A flock of vultures have landed on the banks of the mighty Xingu River deep in the Brazilian Amazon, and they've come to stay. Circling like scavengers over the river now condemned by the looming Belo Monte dam, international mining executives anxiously await the death of the Xingu to begin extracting the rich seams of gold that line its banks. Such a golden opportunity did not come by chance: without the Belo Monte dam's calculated desiccation of the Xingu's legendary Big Bend, the Belo Sun Mining corporation would be denied access to this vast treasure.

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From Assets to Liabilities

Are CVX shareholders ready for global cat and mouse?

October 4, 2012 | Kevin Koenig

Mr. Watson: What Will You Do About Ecuador?

Earlier this week, we reported on the extraordinarily vulnerable position that Chevron is in due to CEO Watson's poor oversight and mismanagement of multiple crises threatening the company's shareholder value. The Richmond refinery debacle. Millions in fines and suspended operations in Brazil. And a $19 billion damage award in Ecuador that has made Chevron a global fugitive, running from the law while its assets are hiding in plain sight.

Watson's bungling of these issues has caused major ripples among his own shareholders. At this year's Annual General Meeting, Watson faced a shareholder revolt spurred by the $19 billion guilty verdict and asset seizure efforts now underway by the Ecuadorian indigenous and farmer communities.

And understandably so. A report on the Ecuador litigation by prominent corporate accountability strategists details an eyebrow-raising web of financial and operational risks posed by the lawsuit – which seem to be either highlighted or downplayed depending on the company's audience.

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Way Down Watson

October 1, 2012 | Kevin Koenig

Wanted: John Watson

Bad two weeks for Chevron and its head-in-the-sand CEO John Watson. First, last week the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Chevron is under criminal investigation by the EPA for intentionally flaring contaminants and deceiving regulators. No accidental discharge, Chevron literally built a separate pipeline designed to circumvent monitoring equipment, belching contamination into the airspace above the densely populated city of Richmond, CA.

Then, as the Chronicle reported, the initial investigation expanded. And both of these aren't even related to the Aug. 6 refinery fire, which has already produced civil suits, and sparked a new probe from California legislators.

To top it off, Chevron got hit with an injunction by Brazilian courts on Sept. 27 ordering the company to stop operations within thirty days until the investigations of two oil spills off the coast of Rio de Janeiro are resolved. The oil giant was forced to pay $17.3 million in fines last week, and still faces up to $22 billion in potential civil suits.

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Law and Order: Chevron's Criminal Intent

September 25, 2012 | Kevin Koenig

Oil Companies Should Stop Polluting Our Air: We Agree

For those of you who follow the landmark Aguinda v. Chevron lawsuit and the efforts of thousands of indigenous people and farmers to hold the San Ramon oil giant to account for one of the worst oil disasters on the planet, it would come as no surprise to read that Chevron:

...routed hydrocarbon gases around monitoring equipment and allowed them to be burned off without officials knowing about it.

But what's striking about that statement is that it's not in reference to the company's rainforest operations in Ecuador in the 1970s and 1980s. It's referring to Chevron's oil refinery in Richmond, CA. In 2012.

Turns out, Chevron is now under criminal investigation by the EPA for this intentional effort to deceive regulators. The Sunday edition of the San Francisco Chronicle reported:

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