Chevron Corp. expects to lose a multibillion dollar environmental lawsuit in Ecuador but has no intention of paying damages and will continue to fight for “decades”, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The oil giant is facing up to $27 billion in damages for large-scale pollution caused in Ecuador by Texaco, a firm it acquired in 2001. Texaco’s environmental liabilities were well established at the time of its acquisition by Chevron: the company fought a class-action suit filed by 30,000 Ecuadorian plaintiffs through most of the 1990s. In 2001 Texaco successfully had the case moved out of U.S. court to Ecuador. Plaintiffs sued Chevron in Ecuador two years later.
Plaintiffs say that Texaco caused environmental widespread damage in eastern Ecuador, leaving toxic waste pits and allows chemicals and oil to spill into local rivers. Chevron acknowledges the damages but says Texaco’s $40 million cleanup effort in the 1990s absolved it of any environmental liability. The energy giant says that remaining problems are the responsibility of Petroecuador, the state-run oil company that took over Texaco’s operations in 1992.
Last year a court-appointed expert recommended the judge hold Chevron responsible for up to $27 billion in damages, a potential record-setting award. But Chevron has told shareholders it “doesn’t expect to be forced to pay any judgment imposed by Ecuador,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
“We’re not paying and we’re going to fight this for years if not decades into the future,” Chevron spokesman Don Campbell told the paper. “We’re not going to be bullied into a settlement.”
Chevron has been working to undermine the potential judgment by questioning the qualifications of the court-appointed expert and calling into question the credibility of Ecuador’s legal system. The oil company has also been using public relations tactics, including posting remarks disparaging the suit via comments on blogs and news articles.
The Wall Street Journal says most immediate threat to Chevron is its reputation. The firm has lately been promoting its greenery.
BEN CASSELMAN. Chevron Expects to Fight Ecuador Lawsuit in U.S. The Wall Street Journal. JULY 21, 2009
(05/21/2009) Calpers, the country’s largest public pension fund with $170 billion in assets, announced Thursday it will support a resolution calling on Chevron to examine whether it complies with environmental regulations in Ecuador. The move comes as the oil giant faces a potential $27 billion dollar liability for environmental damage caused by Texaco, a company Chevron (NYSE:CVX) acquired in 2001. In court filings Texaco has admitted to dumping and spilling billions of gallons of toxic waste and oil in eastern Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest between 1964 and 1990.
(10/09/2008) Ecuador’s proposal to protect one of the world’s most biodiverse rainforests from oil development has failed to secure any funding ahead at its December deadline, reports the Guardian Unlimited.
(10/08/2008) Chevron lost its attempt to force arbitration in a case in which it could be liable for billions of dollars to pay for cleaning up damages to the Amazon rainforest in eastern Ecuador.
(08/12/2008) 688,000 square kilometers (170 million acres) of the western Amazon is under concession for oil and gas development, according to a new study published in the August 13 edition of the open-access journal PLoS ONE. The results suggest the region, which is considered by scientists to be the most biodiverse on the planet and is home to some of the world’s last uncontacted indigenous groups, is at great risk of environmental degradation.
(07/31/2008) Lobbyists for big oil are working feverishly to persuade the Bush Administration and Congress to let Chevron off the hook for a potential $16 billion liability in an environmental lawsuit.
(05/24/2007) Marketwatch reported more details on Ecuador’s proposal to forgo development of Amazonian oil fields in exchange for payments from industrialized nations. Last month Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said that if the South American country is compensated with half of the forecasted lost revenues, it will not exploit oil in Yasuni National Park, setting aside the area for wildlife and indigenous people. Correa said the cost would be about $350 million per year.
(04/27/2007) Ecuador says it will wait a year to see whether the international community takes its offer to forsake development of a giant oil field in the Amazon rainforest in exchange for compensation, reports the Environmental News Service.
(04/25/2007) The lead lawyer in the landmark environmental lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador is in California to warn that the oil major has failed to prepare for a possible multi-billion dollar damages bill within the coming months