The Slimy Seventeen
The Biggest Oil Threats to the Amazon
These seventeen oil companies are causing catastrophic damage to the Amazon rainforest and threatening the indigenous communities that call it home. Indigenous leaders have asked us all to keep the oil in the ground in the Amazon. This list is a tool that you can use to help them protect their home and our collective planet.
Many of the companies are highlighted as part of the Carbon Underground 200, the companies with the world's largest fossil fuel reserves. The scientific community agrees that we need to keep some 80% of fossil fuels in the ground in order to avert climate catastrophe, so burning their reserves is incompatible with our continued survival.
Make sure that you are not invested in the Slimy Seventeen, and call on your government, university, and place of worship to take their investments out of these companies and reinvest them in community-based clean energy solutions. Divestment challenges the political power of these rogue actors that receive billions of dollars of our tax money in subsidies, that own many of our politicians. Divestment is a way to reclaim our democracies, the places that we love, and our planet.
Most of the companies are publicly traded, and some have other pressure points to leverage. Over following weeks we will shine a light on the worst of the worst and give you some tools to dissuade them from continuing to wreak havoc on the Amazon. Can't wait? Get started with GoFossilFree's Action Toolkit.
Publicly Traded Companies:
British Petroleum (BP)
6th on the Carbon Underground 200
BP, a company notorious for its contamination of the Gulf Coast, has begun to move into the Amazon rainforest. In 2012 it acquired a stake in a gas project in Solimoes Basin, a part of the Brazilian Amazon where few companies have operated due to concerns about the environmental impact of oil and gas in the region.
9th on the Carbon Underground 200
Chevron, which last month was crowned the world's worst company, spent over two decades deliberately poisoning 30,000 indigenous people and campesinos in the Ecuadorian Amazon. After a 20-year legal battle Chevron was ordered to pay $9.5 billion, but instead of compensating the communities it contaminated, it has hired 2,000 lawyers and paralegals to attack its victims, their lawyers, and activist groups like Amazon Watch that have dared to hold it accountable.
29th on the Carbon Underground 200
Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol has repeatedly violated the territorial rights of the U'wa people. Ecopetrol, which owns the Magallanes gas project in U'wa territory, attempted to militarize the area after the U'wa forbid workers from entering their territory. After a 40-day stand-off, Ecopetrol has agreed to temporarily suspend production while they conducts a socio-environmental impact study.
14th on the Carbon Underground 200
The Kichwa, Achuar, Shuar, and Zapara nationalities of Ecuador's western Amazon are fiercely opposed to the operations of ENI (E) subsidiary AGIP. In September the company announced a new 300,000 barrel find, but AGIP's presence has exacerbated tensions in the area that have led to intrafamilial armed conflicts.
Geopark has interest in oil and gas projects that cover four million acres of South America.
Geopark has interest in oil and gas projects that cover four million acres of South America. In October 2014 Petroperu announced it would partner with GeoPark on the development of an oil block containing 55 million barrels of proven and probable light crude reserves. The oil block is in the Amazonian province of Loreto, where the Kichwa and the Achuar tribes have seized oil wells, demanding compensation for decades of contamination. Over the years Achuar opposition has forced Occidental, Arco, and Talisman to all leave the region.
Pacific Rubiales Energy (PRE)
79th on the Carbon Underground 200
The Matsés tribe, whose brothers and sisters would likely be decimated by Pacific Rubiales's plans to drill in an uncontacted peoples' reserve on the Peruvian-Brazilian border, have called on shareholders including JP Morgan, General Electric, Blackrock, HSBC, Allianz, Santander and Legal and General to divest from the Canadian oil giant.
The Matsés, who have publicly opposed Pacific Rubiales' attempts to exploit their territory for over five years, have said that they don't want conflict, but they will defend their territory with bows and arrows if oil workers attempt to enter. Matsés leader Raimundo Mean Mayoruna said, "My message to the companies is that they respect our decision and understand we've lived here for a long time and want to live in peace. We didn't come from any other place. We're from here."
7th on the Carbon Underground 200
Brazilian state oil giant Petrobras, in the midst of a massive corruption scandal that has engulfed Brazil, has started to explore for oil and gas reserves in one of the most isolated parts of the Brazilian Amazon. Petrobras began exploration without the authorization of the seven indigenous nationalities that live in the region, the Brazilian indigenous ministry or even Brazil's National Oil Agency. This could wipe out the Hi Merimã, a nearby people living in voluntary isolation.
3rd on the Carbon Underground 200
PetroChina is the publicly traded subsidiary of the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), which is negotiating with the Ecuadorian government to finance drilling in Yasuní-ITT. The area is one of the most biodiverse places in the Amazon rainforest and is home to Ecuador's last two indigenous communities living in voluntary isolation. CNPC sparked a divestment movement with its funding of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and in October 2014 it agreed to pay Chad $400 million for massive contamination.
The Peruvian state oil company will begin to sell its shares on the stock exchange starting in the second quarter of 2015. In a move that should raise eyebrows for its future shareholders, it is attempting to operate in Block 64, the territory of Achuar communities that have repeatedly rejected any oil activity and have effectively expelled multiple transnational companies since 1995.
38th on the Carbon Underground 200
Madrid-based Repsol (REPYY) has adopted a progressive indigenous community relations policy, but its operations in the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Amazon don't live up to its standards. Repsol, which has long operated in Ecuador's Yasuní National Park, committed to obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of communities where it operates. However, it has submitted a bid on Ecuador's Block 29 despite the fact that only 4% of the people who would be impacted by the project have been consulted.
After Norway's pension fund threatened to divest, Repsol sold its stake in Peru's Block 39, an area home to ‘uncontacted' indigenous communities living in voluntary isolation. However, it is still a partners in the massive Camisea Gas Project, which is also home to communities living in voluntary isolation.
17th on the Carbon Underground 200
Sinopec, a Chinese oil giant infamous for its operations in Canada's tar sands, operates in three blocks in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon through a joint subsidiary with CNPC called Andes Petroleum. Andes has submitted bids on blocks 79 and 83, a huge swath of pristine rainforest that is home to the Sápara and the Kichwa of Sarayaku. For decades both peoples have successfully resisted the incursion of oil companies into their territories.
Private Companies and Wholly State-Owned Enterprises:
Belorusneft and ENAP
Belarusian state oil company Belarusneft and Chilean state oil company ENAP have entered into an agreement with Petroamazonas to drill in an area of the western Ecuadorian Amazon that includes Kichwa territory and Puyo, the regional capital. Belorusneft is now doing seismic testing in the area. This is despite a deeply flawed and inadequate consultation process that has violated the Ecuadorian constitution and international law.
Ecuadorian state oil company PetroEcuador, which in some areas operates under the name PetroAmazonas, inherited Chevron's sites in the Ecuadorian Amazon. While the company has better environmental safeguards than Texaco (now Chevron) did, it is still a major environmental and human rights offender. The company operates most of Ecuador's oil fields, and Ecuador reports an oil spill nearly every week. Petroamazonas recently built an illegal road into the heart of Yasuní National Park where there are communities living in voluntary isolation. It is now trying to secure financing from China to operate in the most biodiverse and culturally fragile part of the park, Yasuní-ITT.
In 2012 a leaked report showed that Anglo-French oil and gas company Perenco tried to hide the existence of uncontacted tribes in an oil block where it was attempting to operate. The company excluded findings from anthropologists showing the tribes' existence, and the company's Latin America regional manager once compared them to the Loch Ness monster, in that they don't really exist. It is still exploring in the concession, and recently acquired a neighboring oil block from Repsol, which pulled out due to the existence of indigenous communities living in voluntary isolation.
After a monthlong blockade, the Achuar and Quechua of the northern Peruvian Amazon have forced Argentina-based Pluspetrol to promise to pay communities for the company's massive contamination in Block 1-AB, which it operates with PetroChina. However, even if the company pays, it won't come close to compensating communities for the damage it has caused. Peru's industry-friendly Ministry of the Environment was forced to declare four river basins impacted by Pluspetrol's operations "environmental emergencies," and Peru's Ministry of Health has noted that 98% of children in the affected communities have inadmissibly high levels of toxic metals in their blood.
Pluspetrol is also the main operator in the Camisea Group. Other members are Repsol (REPYY), SK Innovation (KS), Sonatrach, Tecpetrol, and Hunt Oil. It is currently trying to expand into the Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti Reserve, a protected area for tribes living in Voluntary Isolation and Initial Contact, which could decimate the communities. On Tuesday, February 11th, a 25-year-old protester was reportedly killed by police and thirty people were injured during massive protests over Pluspetrol's operations in the region.