Yasuní national park in ecuador: oil to flow as early as 2015

The government in Ecuador has given the green light for drilling in the unique YasunI National Park. It is the end of the rescue plan.

Now nothing stands in the way of setting up drilling camps. Picture: dpa

Ecuador’s government is pressing ahead unperturbed with the controversial project to extract oil in YasunI National Park. Despite strong protests, the Ministry of Environment in Quito gave the green light for the exploitation of the Tiputini and Tambacocha oil fields in the YasunI region. On Thursday, Minister Lorena Tapia granted the state oil company Petroamazonas the necessary environmental license, according to the ministry’s website.

While Tiputini is outside the national park, Tambacocha is part of it. The Ishpingo oil field, on the other hand, is not affected. According to Environment Minister Tapia, the intention is to avoid encroaching on this zone of the YasunI Park, which has been defined as untouchable.

This means that nothing stands in the way of setting up the drilling camps and extracting and producing crude oil at Tiputini and Tambacocha. The oil reserves of the two fields are currently estimated at around 460 million barrels of oil.

As of 2015, 2.2 million barrels are already to be removed annually from Tiputini, according to a report by the Ministry of Non-Renewable Resources. To this end, a new oil pipeline will be specially built through the ecologically unique region between the Tiputini and Napo rivers.

Too few signatures

Members of the environmental alliance YASunidos protested Thursday in front of the building of the National Electoral Council CNE in Quito against the release of the oil demand. YASunidos had failed at the beginning of May with its attempt to bring about a referendum on oil production in YasunI National Park. According to the CNE, the environmentalists had not submitted the valid 585,000 signatures required for this. YASunidos accuses the CNE of fraud and is trying to take legal action against the rejection.

The YasunI is one of the most biodiverse areas on earth, a part of which has been a national park since 1979 and was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1989. In addition to the various plant and tree species, it is mainly amphibians, frogs, toads and snakes that make up the biological wealth. Some indigenous communities also live here, having little contact with the outside world.

In 2007, President Rafael Correa proclaimed the so-called Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini initiative, or ITT for short. It envisaged leaving the oil reserves of 846 million barrels suspected at the time in the small sub-area of the YasunI region untouched in the ground. This was intended to eliminate the dangers to people and the environment posed by extraction and, at the same time, to prevent future CO2 emissions.

To do this, it was planned that the international community would pay $3.6 billion into a United Nations compensation fund. In August 2013, however, Correa declared the ITT initiative to be over. Only a fraction of the money had been collected.

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