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Letter Oilwatch - Protect the Planet, Keep oil companies out of Yasuni-ITT PDF Print E-mail

6 September 2013

Oilwatch International

Rafael Correa


Republic of Ecuador

Dear Mr. President

Protect the Planet, Keep oil companies out of Yasuni-ITT

We are shocked by the announcement you made on 15 August 2013 that you would permit crude oil extraction in the Yasuni-ITT. We strongly believe that the original decision to leave the oil in this pristine territory in the ground was the right decision and that the decision should not be revised or changed for any reason. We hereby declare our support for the original initiative to refrain from exploitation of the heavy crude oil of Yasuni-ITT.

Open letter to the President of Ecuador as the date approaches for assessment of the Yasuní-ITT initiative PDF Print E-mail

Mr. President Correa:

We wish to register our opposition to the way that the Yasuni-ITT initiative is being dismantled without proper public discussion and review and to what appear to be attempts to make petroleum exploitation in Yasuni National Park a fait accompli.

A concession of dubious legality has been awarded for Block 31; a new road inside Yasuni National Park is being built, literally paving the way for extraction; pipelines are being installed; an oil-extraction corridor to the ITT fields is being prepared for the Chinese company PetroOriental. At the same time, a negative assessment of the state of the Yasuni-ITT initiative is being prepared which claims that international interest in the initiative is lacking.

"Keep the Oil in the Soil": Ecuador Seeks Money to Keep Untapped Oil Resources Underground PDF Print E-mail

Democracy Now
As delegates discuss various ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Copenhagen, Ecuador has a simple message: keep untapped oil in the ground. Ivonne Yanez is an environmental activist from Ecuador, one of the larger oil producing countries in Latin America. Ecuador is believed to be sitting on an oil reserve of hundreds of millions of barrels. But the oil is located in the Yasuni National Park, one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. Ecuador has launched a unique campaign to have the international community compensate the country in exchange for keeping the oil in the ground.

Summary of the proposal PDF Print E-mail

The aim of the proposal is to provide a creative solution for the threat posed by the extraction of crude oil in the Ishpingo-Tiputini-Tambococha (ITT) oil fields, which are located in the highly vulnerable area of Yasuní National Park. The proposal would contribute to preserving biodiversity, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and their way of life.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has stated that the country’s first option is to maintain the crude oil in the subsoil. The national and international communities would be called on to help the Ecuadorian government implement this costly decision for the country. The government hopes to recover 50% of the revenues it would obtain by extracting the oil.

The procedure involves the issuing of government bonds for the crude oil that will remain “in situ”, with the double commitment of never extracting this oil and of protecting Yasuní National Park.

It is important to keep in mind that if Ecuador succeeds in receiving the hoped for amount – estimated at 350 million dollars annually – it would only be for a period of ten years beginning after the sixth year, since production and thus potential revenues would progressively decline at the end of that period.

A more promising alternative would be a strategy to provide the government with the 50% of resources in such a way as to provide a consistent income for an indefinite period of time. This resources would be channelled towards activities that help to free the country from its dependency on exports and imports and to consolidate food sovereignty.

pdf Download the concept document on the proposal 481.62 Kb

pdf Download an Oilwatch publication on the proposal to Keep Oil Underground 7.56 Mb

Arguments in support of the proposal PDF Print E-mail
The proposal is framed within the national and international contexts based on the following considerations:
  1. halt climate change
  2. stop destruction of biodiversity
  3. protect the huaorani people
  4. economic transformation of the country
Background PDF Print E-mail
Options for the ITT Block
Energy Minister Alberto Acosta has referred on numerous occasions to a civil society proposal not to extract crude oil in Yasuní National Park. On 30 March 2007 President Correa analyzed the alternatives for developing what has been referred to up until now as the ITT project.
Proposal for compensation for maintaining the ITT crude oil in situ PDF Print E-mail

Article 32 of the Hydrocarbons Law establishes that the exploitation of deposits of heavy crude oil of less than 15 degrees API gravity will be subject to “integral economic planning directed by the Ministry of the sector.”

Article 91 of the current Ecuadorian constitution recognizes the Principle of Precaution and states that “preventive measures will be taken in the event of doubts over the impact or negative environmental consequences of any action or omission, even if there is no scientific evidence of damage. Without prejudice to the rights of those directly affected, any individual or legal entity, or group of people, can undertake the actions foreseen in the law for the protection of the environment.”