In November of 2012, Ecuador opened the bidding process for oil development in the Pastaza and Morona Santiago provinces located in the southeastern region of the Amazon. The area up for grabs is almost entirely pristine, covers between eight and ten million acres, and is home to seven indigenous nationalities, all of which face risk of devastation if oil development is permitted in the region.
Recently, The Pachamama Alliance just learned of a development that may indicate a move in the desired direction: On April 22nd, Ecuador's government announced it is extending the deadline for investors and oil executives to submit bids on the eight to ten million acres, which has been divided up into 16 blocks.
While the government is claiming the purpose of the extension is to allow interested parties more time to study the region's geology and complete legal paperwork, there is a chance it reflects a reluctance on the part of oil companies to submit bids at all due to the international protests.
It wouldn't be an unprecedented situation. Prior administrations have tried to auction the area off before, but garnered little interest from investors and oil companies due to resistance.
Despite Strong Protest, Ecuador Acts Deaf
While Ecuador's government acts deaf to international protest, it remains to be seen if would-be investors and oil companies are better listeners and are indeed delaying bidding, as they have in the past, due to the strong show of international opposition.
On April 17th, Ecuador's government officials wrapped up their international oil round promotion efforts. Promotion efforts began in Quito, then moved on to Houston, Paris, Beijing, and ended in Calgary. Along the way, the roadshow was met with protest demonstrations by indigenous and non-indigenous alike.
Perturbing to many is that fact that Ecuador's recently re-elected President, Rafael Correa, once seemed to champion environmental and indigenous rights, even telling the indigenous nations that he "would never fail them." Now, he seems more interested in oil exploitation and the Ecuadorian government, in general, has seemed determined to ignore both international indigenous human rights law, and international sentiment, as it waits for bids to come in.
The Pachamama Alliance has been one of those voices of opposition to oil development in the Amazon, making the XI Oil Round our campaign focus this last winter. Follow the timeline of our past news coverage on this issue below, and stay tuned as we continue our efforts.
Summary of Our News Coverage:
November 28, 2012
Indigenous Protests Grow as Ecuador Auctions Amazon Oil Blocks
"Hundreds of indigenous people gathered outside the Marriott Hotel in Quito today at the VII Annual Meeting of Oil and Energy where the Ecuadorian government announced the opening of the XI Round, an oil auction in which 13 oil blocks went on sale..." Read the entire article.
Idle No More Turns Out in Solidarity With Achuar Leaders in Houston
“I came here to tell the government and the companies that our lands are not for sale,” said Jaime Vargas, president of the Achuar Nation of Ecuador, during the Houston, Texas protest in front of the North American Prospect Expo." Read the entire article.
March 12, 2013
Avaaz and Amazon Watch Simulate Oil Drilling to Advocate for Ecuador's Amazon
"The Paris oil drilling simulation urges President Correa to continue to uphold his reputation as a “Green President” by halting the oil round concessions that would violate the Ecuadorian constitution, and open up an area the size of the Netherlands for oil exploration as early as December of this year. " Read the entire article.
Ecuador Continues XI Oil Round Despite International Protest
"Despite strong global protest to Ecuador’s XI Oil Round that places some 10 million acres of pristine Amazon rainforest, and seven indigenous nationalities, at risk of social environmental and cultural devastation, Ecuador’s government continues to move forward in its efforts to auction off blocks of rainforest to international oil companies and investors." Read the entire article.
April 18, 2013
Protest in Canada as Ecuador Wraps Up XI Oil Round Roadshow
"On April 17th, Ecuador’s government officials met with investors and oil company executives in Calgary, Canada where...labor unionists, aboriginal activists, and environmentalists demonstrated against its oil round licensing efforts...Protesters delivered a declaration of opposition from five of the seven indigenous nationalities that face risk of devastation if Ecuador allows oil exploration and drilling to occur." Read the entire article.