Monday, August 19, 2013

Ecuador to Drill for Oil in the Amazon Rainforest

Ecuador has abandoned a UN backed conservation plan that would have paid the country not to drill for oil in the 10,000 sq km (3,860 sq miles) Yasuni National Park located in the Amazon rainforest. According to President Rafael Correa, the plans to drill in the area are the result of rich nations failing to live up to their commitments.

"The world failed us," explained Correa, "It was not charity that we sought from the international community, but co-responsibility in the face of climate change."

Correa was looking to recover half of the revenues from drilling equivalent to $3.6 billion of the value of the reserves in the park's Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oil field, over 13 years. The Yasuni oilfields hold an estimated 846 million barrels of crude, or 20 percent of Ecuador's reserves. Oil is Ecuador's primary export.

Drilling in the park is an environmental calamity as this is the home of a number of different indigenous communities and one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. This area is also home to species of birds, monkeys and amphibians found nowhere else on earth.

The drilling will reportedly add more than 400 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. The Yasuni drilling will add to a number of other hydrocarbon projects in the western Amazon.

A total of 78 percent of Ecuadorians are reportedly against drilling in the park. Although Correa was faced with protests, the hundreds of people gathered in Quito are unlikely to change plans to drill which are expected to start in the next few weeks.

Just after signing the executive decree, Correa said the decision was one of the most difficult he had to take as president.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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