6 September 2013
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Download the concept document on the proposal 481.62 Kb
Download an Oilwatch publication on the proposal to Keep Oil Underground 7.56 Mb
The proposal is framed
within the national and international contexts based on the
- halt climate change
- stop destruction of biodiversity
- protect the huaorani people
- economic transformation of the country
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
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.”