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The material from this page is forwarded to us and submitted by groups we know nothing or little about, but it seems reliable enough to let our readers decide and consider it a resource.  

The following is from an emailed newsletter received by Culture Change July 1, 2004.




May 2004



Dear Friends: 


In this edition of Resistance, we review how oil companies work, who benefits and who promotes the petroleum model.

 We also include information on the discovery of important sources of gas in the area of Arakan in Birmania and the geopolitical role that the islands of Comores and Cuba could play.

 In the history of those of us who resist we share with you the resolutions taken by various Nigerian democratic organizations.

 In Solidarity 

Oilwatch International Secretariat





 -                                     HOW THE OIL INDUSTRY WORKS

-                                     REFINERIES

-                                     NAVAL TRANSPORT COMPANIES

-                                     STORAGE OF CRUDE OIL

-                                     SERVICE COMPANIES

-                                     OIL INFASTRUCTURE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRIES

-                                     THE PRIVATE BANKS

-                                     EXPORT CREDIT AGENCIES (ECAs)

-                                     OTHER COMPANIES LINKED TO THE OIL SECTOR

2.                WHO PROMOTES THE OIL MODEL

-                                     NACIONES UNIDAS

-                                     CONSERVATION NGOs

3.                OIL IN THE TROPICS

-                                     CUBA

-                                     COMOROS ISLANDS

-                                     BURMA (ARAKAN)

4.                OUT OF THE TROPICS

-                                     GEORGIA


-                                     NIGERIA

6.                REVIEW

7.                POEM



 According to the analysis carried out by the oil industry itself, the period when companies could count on large oil reserves concessioned by national States is over.  For this reason, oil companies have established various strategies to survive the XXI century, among them technological specialization.

 In these recent years, technology has allowed the oil industry access to oil and gas reserves which were previously not possible.  One example of this is extraction from deep oceans, technology initiated by Petrobras.  Currently, only considering Angola there have been 12 important oil discoveries in deep water blocks, making Angola the 3rd oil producer in Africa with possibilities of reaching first place.

 Another innovation that has taken place in recent years is the exploitation of heavy and ultraheavy crude oil.  During the decade of the 1930`s, Shell carried out a process of intensive prospection in various areas of the Ecuadorian Amazon.  There it identified important reserves of heavy crude but did not have the technology to exploit them.

 Only decades later, has the technology to access these oil fields developed and now these areas are either in the process of exploitation or licitation.  In Venezuela, Ameriven(ChevronTexaco, ConocoPhillips and PdVSA) will exploit heavy crude oil from 250 -500 well in the so called Orinoco Ridge. 

In the oil sector there are some companies that have specialized in access to set reserves that imply a certain level of risk.  Some companies have specialized in exploiting in areas of high political risk.  Among these is Unocal that exploits gas in the Yadana Sea of Birmania, whose government faces international comdenation for violations against human rights and attempting to construct a gas pipeline that crossed Afghanistan during the Tabilan regime.  They are also present in some conflict zones in Indonesia.  Others specialize in incursions into remote areas.  Arco (currently BP) is an example of this; it accepted concessions in Iran Jaya and in the most remote areas of the Ecuadorian and Peruvian jungle and in the Alaskan Artic.  Russian companies have occupied the niche left by other companies that fear damage to their reputation, for example the presence of Slavenft in Sudan. 

Developing strategies at a regional level is also important for the oil industry.  For example Occidental, United States bases company changed all its interests in Southeast Asia with Shell, to concentrate in Latin America, and later started to sell these to concentrate on the Middle East.  Repsol operates preferentially in Latin America, whilst French and British industries concentrate on their ex-colonies.

 Oil companies influence imposed State politics of restructural economic programs, such as deregulation of labor laws and the privatization of state companies hydrocarbon reserves.   This has allowed companies to reduce costs and not have any type of responsibility over labor as well as having access to state reserves.  In Latin America, the industry wishes in invest in large companies such as PdVSA (Venezuela), Pemex (Mexico) and Braspetro (Brasil), however it has been state companies from East Europe that have claimed the greatest interest from oil transnationals in these recent years, due to the violent processes of deregulation which they have entered.


 An ever smaller group of transnational co operations invest in hydrocarbon exploitation, of which the oil companies are the major beneficiaries.  However behind them exists many other companies or institutions such as transport, insurance and financial companies among others.

 The largest private oil companies are:  ExxonMobile(United Status), Shell (UK-NL), BP (UK), ChevronTexaco (United Status), AGIP (Italy), TotalFinaElf (France) Respsol YPF (Spain). 

These companies are the result of megamergers which they have had to result to in order to survive the world energy market, for example, BP is the result of the merger of Amoco and Arco. 

At least 4 state oil companies compete with large private industries and in some way act as transnational companies.  The difference with the first, apart from exploitation activities of hydrocarbon resources, is that they have to act as regulators in the energy sector, and at least theoretically their earnings are redistributed in society.  These are: ARAMCO (Saudia Arabia), Braspetro (Brasil), National Iranian Oil Co, PdVSA (Venezuela) and PEMEX (Mexico).

 The companies with the greatest participation in the market in 2001 where: BP, ExxonMobil, National Iraina Oil, Royal Dutch/Shell and Saudi ARAMCO.


 The country with the greatest capacity for refinery is the United States (16.510 thousand barrels a day in 1999), followed by Japan (5.110 thousand barrels a day in 1999), China (5.020 thousand barrels a day in 1999) Germany (2240 thousand barrels a day in 1999).

 Many insular States have a large refining capacity in relation to their territorial area and their energy requirements.  Singapore enters into this group of countries.  In the past, the two largest world refineries were in Aruba and Curacao both Dutch colonies.

 It has frequently been identified that the location of refineries has an environmental racism characteristic, and it is for this reason that many of the groups that work in the field of environmental justice dedicate themselves to refineries.

 The companies with the greatest earnings in the refinery sector are the Japanese companies Cosmo Oil Company Ltd, Nippon Oil Corp, Showa Shell Sekiku KK and Teon General Sekiku KK and the United States company Valero Energy Corp.


 Naval transport of crude oil is dominated by private owners, but there exists a consolidation process of this sector in a few companies.  In fact currently, 25% of the world fleet is in the hands of 10 owners. 

A strategy of the oil industry is to develop its own transport fleet.  For example BP has invested 3 thousand million dollars in the business of crude oil transport. Other companies are following this example as in the case of the Korean companies Hyundai, Samsung; and the Japanese Tsuneishi and Mitsubishi, as well as Denme of Holland and NSSCO North American company that operates in Alaska.


 The countries with the largest storage capacity in the world are Liberia that concentrates 21% of world capacity followed by Panama, where 12% is stored.  These countries are important naval routes for large oil tankers.  Other large storage terminals are found in insular states of the third world, transforming them in tank states.  An example of this is the Marshall Islands, the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands.

 There is a growing concentration for the crude oil storage sector to be held in few hands.  In the United Kingdom, the storage of crude oil is in the hands of three operators: Vopak, Simon Storage and ST Services and the oil terminal of Simon belongs to Vopak, Simon Storage.


 Neoliberal fundadimentalism has forced countries to apply flexible labor norms.  That is why currently the majority of activities that were previously carried out by traditional companies today are carried out by service industries, who do this work in situ.

 The importance that these service companies have acquired is so great that last year we were witness to the first war carried out in favor of an oil service company, who was the primary beneficiary in the invasion against Iraq. 

Some businesses such as Halliburton provide oil services as well as military services, existing a close relationship between the two sectors.

 The companies with the greatest earnings are: Baker Hughes Incorporated, FMC Corporation, Halliburton, Schlumberger and Weatherford International, the majority of them United States based.


 Behind every oil operation there exists a complicated infrastructure which gives way to a market for construction companies. 

Asian countries have emerged with dominate force in this sector, especially Korean companies among them Hyundai.

 Among the European companies are Aker McNulty and Amec Offshore Services of the United Kingdom, Grootint of Holland, Aker Stord and Grootint of Holand, Aker Strod and ABB of Norway, Belleli Offshore, Belgium Bluewater.

 Some companies that are in the oil construction business have diversified to include engineering projects, construction of and installation of infrastructure as well as civil engineering jobs.


The private bank has identified some elements in the oil industry to extend its business such as the deregulation of the state energy sector, mergers and acquisitions of oil companies and the development of new oilfields, oil and gas pipelines, refineries, etc.  There is a specialization in the financial sector linked to the oil industry.  The banks act as advisers and design financial structural programs, the “arrangers” collect funds for the operation.  Added to this are the insurance companies and commercial banks that sometimes act as lending syndicates.


Some banks who have investments in the oil sector are US Ex – Im Bank, FleetBoston Finantial, Citigroup of the United States.  From spain BBVA and Caja Madrid, from Germany WestLB and Dresdner Kleinwot Wasserstein, form Italy Banca Nazionale del Lavoro and from England Barclays.


 These are public agencies that provide refundable loans, guaranties and insurance to its corporations that look to do foreign business (in developing and emerging countries).  The majority of industrialized nations have at least one credit agency for exports.  These back risky and controversial projects in the mining, forestry, oil, gas and carbon industry.   A very high percentage of these energy projects are backed by ECAs.  As a result, these projects often affect the natural environment and are a threat to the survival and integrity of the people in the affected regions.

 There participation is greatest in the World Bank in risky projects. 

For example, between 1995 and 1999 the World Bank provided 5,95 thousand million dollars in loans to the fossil fuel and mining sector, compared to Credit Agencias which provided 40,5 thousand million dollars for exploration.

 MIGA (Multilateral Guaranty and Investment Agencies)

 MIGA is a World Bank specialized agency that guarantees multilateral investments.  It offers guarantees for projects financed by the World Bank that are considered politically risky for the investors and loaners, through backing these countries receptors of retainer loans and investment.  The MIGA intervenes in the energy sector.

 For example MIGA has provided a guarantee for 15 years to the company Sasol of South Africa for $27 million to cover an investment of $30 million via Sasol Petroleum Temane Ltd (“SPT”) in Mozambique and $45 million to cover a $50 million investment for the construction of an 850Km gas pipeline that transports gas from Mozambique to South Africa.

 MIGA guarantees risks related to expropriations, war, civil uprising among others.


 Apart from the credit sector, there are a series of advisor and financial service companies that benefit from the oil industry.  In the service sector of legal consultancy and financial accounting for the oil industry, a few firms dominate the world market.  The fall of Enron produced various changes in the oil financial sector, and increased the risk of the sector.  Some of the large banks could be involved in the Enron scandal. 

The main job of the legal firms is to facilitate the company profits by minimizing regulatory, legal or environmental impediments that still exist in the energy sector.  



Oil accounting services


Ernst & Young

Tax advisors

Ernst & Young


Information technology advisors


Stratergy Advisors

McKinsey & Company

Electronic Comercial Advisors



Legal Services

Clifford Chance

Vinson & Elkins

Financial Institutions

JP Morgan (incorporada con Chase Manhattan)



 The prescribed oil model that favors above all transnational oil companies, is promoted and sometimes imposed upon by some international institutions that are at the service of the corporations, within these the World Bank is highlighted, through financing and imposes its structural adjustment programs.  It backs countries (indebting them) so that they implement fiscal programs to comply with IMF impositions in relation to policies and OMC requirements in relation to energy.

 The World Bank backs countries in design of adjustment policies.  Among the adjust policies are those that forces countries to overexploit their oil resources.

 More directly the World Bank finances development oil projects, construction of oil pipelines, etc.

 The International Monetary Fund imposes macro economic policies related to the reduction of the role of the State and in public spending weakening state industry.  It forces countries to privatize its energy sector via conseciones and deregulation of the oil sector.  It promotes free competition of the energy state sector with the private sector and forces countries to do away with subsidies in the energy sector (electricity, domestic gas, fuel)

 The IMF was created to offer its members loans to overcome short term difficulties in their balance payments; it later took on the role of fiscalizer of countries and institutions in debt. 

Its loans are destined to the payment of interest and political reforms.  The United States has 18% of the votes in the IMF, 5 countries control 40% of the decisions.

 With the deregulation policies on labor laws, via programs of structural adjustment imposed by the IMF, oil companies can find a disposable work force in the countries which they have access to without having to taken on any form of labour responsibilities and at low costs.

 Oil companies take advantage of privatization policies or privatization covered up as concessions, tercerization of services, etc to have access to the resources which were previously under state control.


The United Nations programs for the environment, under the name of sustainable development, is promoting the so called public private associations that are societies between Northern and Southern governments, businesses and NGO´s that has changed the way the United Nations functions.

 According to this scheme, States act as intermediaries so that transnational businesses comply with the objectives set in the Plan of Action, via Public – Private associations.

 There already exists proposal for associations to intervene in renewable energy, such as the GA renewable energies initiative, in with Shell participates as leader in sustainable development. 

Through Public Private Associations, the use of natural gas is promoted and nuclear energy as sources of clean energy.  Included are also highly questionable projects such as the West African Pipeline.


 Many non governmental conservation organizations function for the interests of oil companies.  These enter in various types of societies with oil companies and they help them develop a green image.  In some cases they receive money to buy lands destined for conservation, whilst at the same time they destroy other areas freely.

 Part of this strategy involves the energy and biodiversity initiative or EBI, in which the oil companies ChevronTexaco, BP, Shell and Statoil participate.  In the conservation sector there is Conservation International, TNC, Smithsonian Institute, Flora and Fauna International and UICN.

 This tendency is strengthened by the XI session of the UNCTAD that took place in mid June of 2004 in Sao Paulo, in which it an alliance between oil companies and sustainable development programs was established.  The business partners are North American company Occidental Petroleum who backs projects of biocomerce to Ecuadorian organizations that promote exports.  The project will take place within an area of 200.000 Ha concessioned to the company where 28 indigenous communities live. 

 Source SAO PAULO, Jun 16 (IPS). An Unlikely Alliance to Pursue Biotrade.  Mario Osava.




 The recent position of the United Status against Cuba that comes from the “Presidential report” of the Commission to help for a Free Cuba (leaded by Collin Powell) should be seen as a flagrant step in the violation of the sovereignty of the national Island and with that, the resolution 2625 of the General Asembly of the UN of October of 1970, but more so, as the  pre- scene that points towards a United States insurgence over Cuban territory, its resources and its population; all as Washington as protector.

 The case is no less and with difficultly passes unnoticed in the context of the current pre-electoral period.  In February of this present year in an article a Cuban invasion was being analyzed as a card in the reelection fight for Bush and moment edition of the text the electoral situation in the northern power was not so fought over.  Now the scenery is markedly complicated due to the addition of Waren Buffet, the second most richest man in the world, to the democratic campaign of John Kerry who has a position towards Cuba that could be considered as even more reactionary that Bush`s; as with the no less scandalous situation in Irak that increasingly is getting out of “their” control (the Government of the USA and its allies) given the intense civil massacre of Iraqis, the increasing number of American soldiers causalities and recently due to the public denouncements for the torture and presumed assassination of “prisoners of war” on behalf of American and British military personnel.

 Of the report for a “Free Cuba” presented officially by Powell the 6th of May 2004 various readings and implications can be interpreted.  Here it is important to make note of 2 points.  On the one hand, the document clearly looks to profile itself as the key to gain the political-business summit of the Cuban dissidents of Florida.  On the other hand, if the text is reviewed it can be noted that it is a well orquestriated plan for the anexion of Cuba as protector in which the dissidents would play the role of (cepayos) of the US on the island.  The considered measures go from supporting dissidence (financially and logistically and in the form of counterrevolutionary groups) and in the process of transition to a post Castro Cuba in which the “succession plans of the regime” fail until the economic, political and military take over on behalf of Washington.  It concerns a scenario that is made clearer if it is reviewed from a the geopolitical perspective of oil imperialism of the Gulf of Mexico within the context that new oil reserves and potential oil reserves were confirmed in the zone, particularly in what is known as the “hoyos de dona” geological formations that are located within the geographical zone that boarders the judicial marine boundaries of the US, Mexico and Cuba.

 Even though in effect it concerns a region in which many oil prospecciones have been carried out, only recently has the information and necessary technology been available to conclude that it concerns an area of high hydrocarbon concentrations characterized by being located at great depths.  It is no coincidence that in the last years multinational oil companies have shown great interest in exploration and eventual exploitation of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico.  The speed in which the “oil marine exploitation fields” are being concessioned is of importance since it is considered that the first to carry out extraction of crude in important quantities will benefit from the effect known as “popote”, understood not so much as horizontal perforation but more as a phenomena that is produced from drainage by the gravitational pull.  Due to this is that Barbosa Cano, specialist in this issue from the Institute for Economic Investigation of UNAM, considers that “there is a very real risk that North American companies will appropriate the oil” which in the Gulf could reach 100 thousand million barrels, “

 This brings to attention that the USA has for some years now obtained licenses to a growing number of oil fields in the region of the Golf of Mexico.  Johnnie Burton from the Administration Services for Minerals (MMS) of USA, institution in charge of this activity (together with the Department for internal affairs) indicated that from March of the present year “United States is now its ninth year of sustained expansion of developing domestic exploitation of oil and gas at depths in the Gulf of Mexico and there are no signs of this decreasing”.  He also adds “the potential this resource provides for the nation increases with each new discovery at ultra deep water depths”.

 Among the perforation wells discovered, only between 2001 to 2003 are: the Discoverer Deep Seas de Chevron/Transocean in Block AC 818, the Deepware Millenium of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation/Trasnocean in Block AT 349, el Jack Ryan of Shell Offshore/Global Santa Fe in Block AC 943, in Deepwater Nautilus of Shell Offshore/Transocean in block MC 657, the Deepwater Pathfinder of Chevron/Transocean in Block MC 696, the Explorer of BHP Billiton/Global Santa Fe in Block AT 618, the Discoverer Enterprise of BP Exploration/Transocean in Block MC 778, the Cajun Express and the Marianas of Dominion Exploration/Transocean in Block MC 734 and MC  772 respectivamente, the 1503 of Dominion Exploration/Pride in Block MC 773, el Discoverer Spirit of Union Oil Co/Transocean Block GC 943, o  the Ocean Confidence of BP Exploration/Diamond Offshore in Block GC 826.

 The above means that the potential production of the Gulf signifies almost 30% of the domestic production of oil and 23% of gas for the USA, according to the MMS(10);  figures that could increase as the potential oil reserves are confirmed and new ones are discovered in other areas, in this way hydrocarbons of this exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Mexico and Cuba “fall into the hands” of the USA under the “popote” effect.  Take note that this phenomena can be very soon in process, since from 1995 to 2002 US extraction of oil from deep waters from the Gulf increased by 535% whilst those of gas increased by 620%.

  Within this scenario, the reserves of the Gulf of Mexico are hoped to be larger than those of the USA.  These are calculated to be around 15 thousand million barrel of oil and 47 thousand cubic meters of gas (considering proven and expected reserves), the Mexican reserves could reach 22 thousand million barrels of oil, but they could increase as the more than 170 “probable projects” are confirmed, according to Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) after having carried out more than 800 explorations in the Deep waters of the Gulf (here the reason why Barbosa Cano said that the potential oil reserves of the region of the Gulf of Mexico could reach up to 100 thousand million barrels).

  The figures for the cuban EEZ of 112 thousand Km2 are not at all clear, nor the type of crude oil that could be found.  As is known Cuba has source of oil with a high sulphur content, which makes the oil very heavy.  However it is believed that the north and northeast of the Island there could be deep geological structures of light crude oil.   For reasons of prospeccion (something which was impossible during the decade of the 1950´s when for example Standard Oil carried out its explorations), the island has divided its EEZ which extends in the shape of a triangle in 59 block of 2 thousand Km each and which have started to be licienced (10 up until now) by oil companies such as Petrobras (Brasil), Repsol YPF (Spain) or Sherrit International (Canada).

 The cuban reserves do not seem to be at all despreciables.  Repsol YPF announced that the potential reserves correspond only to Block of Yamagua could be of around 1,600 million barrels or equivalent to 30% of the proven reserves of the current multinationals.  The estimates of the 6 block north of Cuba, according to Repsol YPF could contain up to 6 thousand million barrels.  Consequently the multinational considers Cuba as “one of the priority areas of growth”.  But note that the potential reserves could be even larger, which can only be confirmed at the moment of perforation.

 The fact that the Cuban embargo does not permit multinationals of the USA to sign contracts with the island has been an obstacle, in this case, for the exploitation of Cuban oil, which presumably was intended to be negotiated as part of USA reserves since the first Bush administration left Cuban negotiations out, mentioning only “two zones” (USA and Mexican) and in no occasion was a third talked about corresponding to the “Dona Oriental” over which Cuba has unquestionable rights.

 Such situation it would seem could be resolved under the “post-Castro” scenario under the charge of the servants of the USA in Cuba, issue which is pointedly considered in the report for a Free Cuba.  Within the indications in this presumed scenario, the servants of the USA in Cuban would have to consider, as part of the programs for economic liberalization the total privatization of Cuban businesses – under charge of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank- the celebration of a Commercial Trade agreement with the USA and in a second instance, the launching of the country as another of the members of the Area of Free Trade of the Americas.  In such scenario the USA has set its sights on the Cuban mineral reserves such as nickel and cobalt and of course oil.

 As directly quoted from the report “in medium terms, the US Geological Service should be ready to provide assistance and help in the modernization of critical governmental institutions such as geological exploration, ministries of mining and related organizations.  This should include the development and implementation of prospection programs for mining and the modernization of geochemical and geophysical explorations and the production of geological maps”.  In which of course the precise localization of potential terrestrial and particularly marine oil reserves have to be included.

 ‘Kindly’ the USA auto proposes itself as the candidate to “guarantee the growth in offer of crude required by the Cuban economy and to modernize and maintain the adequate functioning the capacity of refining it.  For such purpose the opening of Cuba to foreign direct investment is central, according to the report.  In this way the USA oil companies the exercising of contracts with Cuba would be resolved, and at the same time such northern power for negotiation that in principle, seen from an imperialist point of view, should belong to the US but that however for the moment is being consolidated by European multinationals.

 In the report it is not made clear how the process towards “a Free Cuba” according to the US would be, but it is worth considering the possibility of a military invasion, especially if it is taken into account that the northern power is being controlled by a group of maddened criminals that has not doubted in using terror of the State throughout, at the same time as it has acted unilaterally and has systematically violated international rights (and lets not mention human rights).  The justification could be used are well know and over used: the war against terrorism (faced with a clandestine operation or “auto attack” chemical-biological against the civil US population (or Cuban) which would be claimed without question to the Castro regime) and as part of an “effort” to “take democracy to the Cuban people and free it from the Castro dictatorship”.

It is as Saxe-Fernandez warns “it is necessary to add to the equation the geostrategic factor the Cuban oil resources  of the Golf of Mexico represents and its impact on the action plan of the Bush administration – and the interests that it represents – to Cuba and its hydrocarbon riches in the Dona Oriental.  We could state that the danger of an operation against the island has increased as a result of new “oil geography” of the Golf of Mexico, of the unmeasured ambition and greed for Cuban and Mexican oil and the dangerous tendency towards unilateralism that currently dominates decisions from the Oval Office.

 Which ever way, in the interim, the report proposes studying the possibility of the application of the III Title of the Helms-Burton Law (16) that evokes the possibility of authorizing the taking place of court cases in North American courts of law against business men of third party countries that negotiate with Cuba…..lets say some oil companies that operate in the Gulf of Mexico; process under which, at least the presence of such multinationals would be boxed in and subordinated in the island, and at the same time the capacity of exploitation of crude oil on behalf of the USA benefiting itself by the “popote” effect would increase.   The first is already a worry that Repsol YPF has expressed when it said “it hopes that the political tension will not affect activity”.

 To the previously mentioned it is worth adding the consideration of the report to elevate efforts in involve governments of third party government in campaigns against the Cuban Revolution.

 As final analysis it is worth being precise over the implications of the new oil geography for the three countries involved of which without doubt are of major consideration.

 In Mexico, the subordinate behaviour of the Mexican elite is leading to the privatization of the oil-electric and gas complex of the country (just as Saxe-Fernandes analyzed in detail in his book “The buying and Sellling” of Mexico. Plaza and Janes, 2002).  The enthusiasm which Mexico has provide Multiple Service contracts to foreign business (particularly those of the USA) which include oil field licenses in the exclusive economic zone of the Golf of Mexico ( among others those of the Cuenca de Burgos) is a case for urgent discussion that should be subject to public scrutiny.

 In Cuba, the annoyance for the USA is that the oil reserves of this carabean country being the object of negotiations between non-US multinationals a sore point for Washington, in the words of Saxe-Fernandez, because “it is an unacceptable example for Washington since if a small island with 11 million inhabitants, only 90 miles from its shores, has been capable of dissuading the major hemispheric power from a military invasion, even after the collapse of the soviet union and all its international structure, what will happen if in the future a governments reaches power which is decided in defending the right to an economic development, industrialization, sovereignty and independence of for example Brazil, country with more than 8 million square Km, with 20% of the world water reserves, with the primary biodiversity reserve and important sources of minerals; or Mexico with 100 million inhabitants and important natural resources reserves, of Venezuela with nearly 70% of the proven crude oil reserves of the hemisphere, or nations of medium size but of enormous strategic importance such as Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, etcetc?”  The imperialist oil geopolitics in the Golf of Mexico is just one factor that gives a new angle to the projections of USA interests over the region, affected not only Mexico and Cuba but the rest of Latin America.  The consequences over sovereignty and national security are of great importance and in especially note worthy for the Cuban case for the previously mentioned reasons.

 With or without invasion, it is clear that the interventionist scale of the USA towards Cuba is a point of action for both Bush as well as the democratic candidate John Kerry.  But, to execute this military operation against the island for a change in regime before or after the elections would be a grave error, as it would generate as Saxe-Fernandez has indicated condemnation regionally and internationally and a Cuban resistance of unsuspected dimensions.  The political cost for the USA in Latin America could be considerable.

 From Cuba, to resist a highly costly economic and political scenario, but above all social/human, product of the growing of controlling manipulation of the United States or of a military operation, clearly requires a strong unity and social resistance (before and after such scenarios) but also of a growing job of denouncing within the international context.  As a Cuban colleague was telling me, better to spill a drop of sweat now rather than a drop of blood later.


Rebelión <


 The small island republic of Comoros has no oil or gas production, either onshore or offshore. Its downstream oil industry is wholly dependent on refined petroleum products imported from Tanzania and other mainland African countries.  The industry is regulated by the Comoros Ministry of Planning. Distribution and marketing of fuels products is carried out by the state owned oil company, Societe Comorienne des Hydrocarbures (SCH), the only oil company in the Comoros. The company owns 2 products storage depots.

 With a population of 585,000 people and an economy based largely on fishing and tourism, its consumption of petroleum products is small. Oil-derived products supply 91.5% of the islands' commercial energy needs.

 In 1999 Assoumani seized power in a coup. Limited democratic progress has being made in terms of an all-party agreement signed in February 2001.

 The   President of the Comoran Union Azali Assoumani, is at loggerheads with the three autonomous leaders, Abdout Soule Elbak of Grande Comore, Mohamed Bacar of Anjouan and Mohamed Said Fazul of Moheli, who accuse him of hogging the power and more importantly the slim pickings, mainly from customs revenues.

 South Africans is interested to get influence in this geopolitical zone. The Comores still owes South Africa $50-million of a soft loan for hotel building during the apartheid era. Mired in debt, Comores has no chance of repaying the South African loan, which constitutes half of its annual repayments to other creditors. The South African embassy closed nine years ago but there are plans to reopen a mission later this year.

 France has always been the leader in this region.

 China is also showing an increased interest in these volcanic islands that eke out an existence from exports of vanilla cloves, ylang ylang and perfume oil.

 Morocco, which has a thriving cottage industry in farming out the troops that King Mohamed VI is too scared to keep at home, is preparing to deploy a group here as presidential guard to Assoumani.

A new interest in the Comores and the Indian Ocean islands is that of Libyan leader Moammar Gadaffi. Gadaffi is determined to make his influence felt in new fields. Libyan and other interest here fuels growing speculation that there is oil in the Mozambique channel.

 Sources: Jean-Jacques Cornish 

18 July 2003 17:51

OilResistance-Africa information & strategies to support African oil struggles


 A world-class commercial-scale gas deposit found at A-1 block offshore Rakhine coast in the Arakan region of Burma.

The deposit can hold gas from 4.2 trillion to 5.8 trillion cubic feet. According to calculations, A-1 block may yield up to 14 trillion cubic feet of gas
The Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise reached an agreement with the Daewoo International Corporation of the Republic of Korea to explore and exploit oil and gas at A-1 block offshore Rakhine coast on 4 August 2000 under production sharing contract. Seismic survey was conducted up to 3,552.75 line kilometres in the area in 2001. Follow-up measures were then taken. The offshore drilling machine Energy Searcher started drilling at Shwe-1 test well in the block on 21 November 2003 and struck the gas deposit on 26 December 2003 at the G-5 sand layer 10,588 feet below the seabed.

According to the geological condition, the deposit may yield from 4.2 trillion to 5.8 trillion cubic feet of gas. Serving as the operator, the Daewoo International Corporation has a 60 per cent stake in the business, while Korea Gas Corporation, another ROK enterprise is holding 10 per cent of the share; ONGC Videsh Ltd of the Republic of India, 20 per cent; and GAIL (India) Ltd, 10 per cent.

According to the calculations, the whole A-1 block may yield up to 14 trillion cubic feet of gas.

The development of this field is generating local resistance.



An oil corridor through the Caucasus set to open next year, angers villagers and environmentalists.  The 130 dirt-farming families in this Caucasus village barely manage to scrape a living from the stony pastures they collectively own. And so when a big oil company wanted to lay a pipeline through this hard patch of earth, it was, as one local leader put it, like "a bolt of good luck from heaven".

 But what looked like a boon is now clouded in discord.

Some residents are threatening to halt the project's advance by sitting in front of the bulldozers when construction teams begin work in Khaishi in May. "We'll put our babies down in their cradles, if necessary, and we'll stay there as long as it takes to make BP listen to us," says Natia Gulidani, reflecting the view of dozens of her neighbors. 

About two-thirds of Khaishi's families claim they were cheated out of their share of about $ 330,000 - a fortune here – when their former village headman and his relatives allegedly absconded with the money BP and its partners paid to use the community's lands.

 Now wending its way through local courts, the Khaishi case is but one of a host of woes besetting the strategically crucial

Western-financed Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline - the only significant economic development project in impoverished Georgia in a decade. The BTC project, which will cost nearly $ 3 billion and snake 1,000 miles through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, is slated to begin pumping crude from newly opened Caspian oilfields to world markets in April 2005. The US has strongly backed the project as part of its effort to diversify petroleum sources away from the Persian

Gulf. Russia, on the other hand, sees BTC as a direct threat to its own existing pipeline network, which currently carries most of the Caspian oil to export markets.

 Experts blame Georgian crime, corruption, and inept government oversight for the escalating social tensions over the unequal division of BP's generous land compensation payments.  "Our society is poor and traditional, and was completely unprepared for this," says Manana Kochladze, regional coordinator for Bankwatch, a Western-funded nongovernmental organization that studies the environmental and social impact of the pipeline. "Now, suddenly, a big multinational company comes in, handing out jobs and big sums of money to a few people, and all kinds of new problems seem to grow out of thin air."

 Villagers are not the only ones upset. Local environmentalists say they are outraged by the decision to run the pipeline through the Borjomi gorge, an alpine resort and the source of Georgia's most famous brand of mineral water.

 The pipeline company, a consortium headed by BP, denies responsibility for troubles cited by critics. BP spokeswoman Rusudan Medsmariashvili says the company scrupulously follows Georgian law, and lets the courts decide who is entitled to cash compensation payments. In the case of Khaishi, she says, local authorities and courts identified the owners of the land the pipeline was to cross, and BP paid those people. "[The company] relies entirely on the state authorities for the veracity and timely provision of such information," she says.

 But the newly elected village headman in Khaishi, Guladi Umpriani, says it's not that simple. Georgia's post-Soviet laws on land ownership are imprecise, proper inventories nonexistent, and local courts are corrupt, he says. News that BP wanted these lands for the pipeline hit the destitute community like "a bolt of good luck from heaven," Mr. Umpriani says. "We trusted our (former) headman to draw up the necessary documents, and he promised to get the best price and distribute it equally to the whole village," he says. "Without our knowledge, he registered his own friends and relatives as the owners, and they got everything. The situation in this village is now very tense, and could turn violent at any moment."

 Mr. Umpriani says villagers don't actually blame BP for what happened, but are angry that the company never sent anyone to talk to them, to look into their problems, or to help them in their struggle for justice.  Experts say that former President Eduard Shevardnadze is partly to blame for fostering unrealistic expectations about the benefits BTC would bring to Georgia's population of 4.5 million, more than half living on less than $ 30 per month. "The government told people the pipeline would create 60,000 jobs, and make everybody rich," says Georgia's environment minister, Nino Chkhobadze.

 BP says that only about 2,000 jobs will be created for Georgians during peak construction; afterward, only 100 permanent jobs will remain. The BTC pipeline will also generate about $ 50 million in transit fees annually, or 7 percent of bankrupt Georgia's current GDP, during its projected 40-year life span. But critics point out that Georgia will be responsible for the security costs of its 154-mile portion of the pipeline, which could eat up to half of those revenues.

 Ms. Medsmariashvili says BP has launched a $ 5 million

Community Investment Program to improve local infrastructure and stimulate economic development along the route in Georgia. It will fund 53 local projects such as providing clean drinking water, repairing roads, fixing schools, and installing new irrigation systems.

 Last November's "rose revolution," in which Mr. Shevardnadze was overthrown in street demonstrations led by US-educated reformer, now President-elect Mikhail Saakashvili, may have roiled the waters by inspiring some Georgians with real or perceived grievances to get aggressive with BP, experts say.

 "In the past month there have been dozens of protests by villagers over compensation payments and other complaints against BP," says Ms. Kochladze. "The company's own Georgian construction workers have been striking repeatedly over wages and overtime issues. This may have been stimulated to some extent by the political example set last November. "BP says it is paying workers between $ 200 and $ 550 per month – far above the average wage. 

Another problem raising hackles here is BP's decision to run the pipeline through the pristine Borjomi mountain gorge, an area known for landslide hazards, where an oil spill could undermine tourism and destroy the reputation of Borjomi mineral water - Georgia's answer to France's Perrier water, and the country's third-largest export.

 "At the very least this pipeline will ruin the visual landscape, which can't be good for our hopes to bring tourists back here," says Natia Muladze at the Borjomi State Nature Reserve, home to several unique bird and plant species.

 According to BP's Ms. Medsmariashvili, the company decided not to use what critics describe as a more direct and

environmentally safer route through Georgia's southern Akhalkalaki region "based on the insistence of the Georgian government which was concerned with the security issues associated with the presence of a Russian military base in the district."

 The main employer in Akhalkalaki region is the Russian base, one of two remaining in Georgia after the USSR's collapse. Both the US and the new Georgian government of President-elect Saakashvili have urged Russia to withdraw its troops, but the issue remains a serious bone of contention between Moscow and Tbilisi.

 The Minister of Environment of Georgia is the only government department that has yet to sign off on the pipeline. Ms. Chkhobadze says she wants BP to reexamine the Borjomi route; the company says the question is closed.

 Most Georgians appear to support the pipeline as necessary for the country's economic development and hopes to integrate with the West. But critics say more public debate about the social and environmental issues is needed. 

 Sources: Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN)






 From Tuesday, April 6 to Wednesday, April 7, 2004, representatives of civil society organisations, oil-bearing communities, academia and the media met in Lagos for a two-day consultative meeting on oil and gas sector policy review. The meeting was organised by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria


 Participants observed as follows:

 1) That the government on April 25, 2000 inaugurated the Oil and Gas Sector Reform Implementation Committee (OGIC) with the Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as Chairman. The duties of the Committee include 'legal and regulatory policy reform which entails reviewing the body of extant petroleum laws and establishing a statutory basis for comprehensive regulatory activity in the sector and balancing the interest of consumers, the environment and operators'. The OGIC is reportedly composed of 25 experts and has a British firm, Nextant Limited, as consultants while the peoples of the oil-bearing communities whose lives and livelihoods are at stake and concerned civil society organisations are not represented on the Committee. Nor have they been consulted so far in the process;

 2) As yet, information about the work of the reform committee is scanty and the process non-inclusive and non-transparent; 

3) That the oil and gas sector policy review is private sector driven and based on the philosophy of neo-liberalism which places profits before people; 

4) That the plethora of environmental laws in Nigeria are yet to be codified in a single document and remain inhumane, undemocratic and non-justiceable;

 5) That Nigeria does not have a record of its crude oil deposits, sales and revenue;

 6) That there is a lack of political will on the part of government to put a decisive stop to the indiscriminate flaring of gas in the Niger Delta;

 7) That since the return of civilian rule in 1999, the government has deliberately refused to appoint a substantive minister in charge of

Petroleum Resources;

 8) That contrary to popular belief that the controversy surrounding the onshore-offshore dichotomy in derivation revenue has been resolved, the littoral states are still being denied their entitlement to the continental shelf contiguous to them but are allowed a varying offshore that reaches a maximum of 200 metres depth in this day and age when most new offshore finds are in deep waters whose control has been vested exclusively on the central government; 


 Based on the foregoing observations, the meeting resolved as follows:

 1) That the ongoing oil and gas sector policy reform process remains unacceptable until it meets the criteria of transparency, inclusiveness and popular participation; 

2) That there is need for a clear legislation on community participation in the Nigerian oil and gas sector; 

3) That we demand a moratorium on new oil field explorations and exploitations;

 4) That there is need for research into alternative sources of renewable energy in Nigeria;

 5) That we endorse the democratic resolutions of the people as contained in the Ogoni Bill of Rights, the Kaiama Declaration of the Ijaw, the Aklaka Declaration of the Egi, and others affirming the right of communities to control their resources; 

6) That all unjust oil and gas laws like the Land Use Decree, the Petroleum Act and others be abrogated;

 7) That a post-oil environmental security fund is desirable to ensure the remediation of the damaged Niger Delta ecosystem;

 8) That the controversy surrounding the offshore-onshore dichotomy be democratically resolved in favour of the oil-bearing communities;

 9) That the government should put an immediate end to gas flaring, ascertain the damage done to the environment and carry out appropriate remediation;

 10) That a substantive Petroleum Resources Minister be appointed without further delay;

 11) That the capacity of the state to regulate business be strengthened

 Sources: ERA/FoE N




By Supara Janchitfan

 Since resistance to the Thai Malaysian Gas Pipeline Project began in 1998, local villages leading the movement have come under heavy pressure from the project´s powerful proponents.  This pressure has taken many forms.   They have being the target of biased media campaigns, lawsuits, economic isolation and even violent attacks by the Thai military and police. 

 The roots of resistance of the Chana people are based on the experiences of communities across Thailand.  The decision to resist the project was made after careful study of the experiences of communities in Map Ta Phut and others.  Like an enciclopedia of traditional wisdom, these stories show the myriad of threats the pipeline project poses to their health, well -being and traditional culture.

 Supara Janchitfan developed the Chana people´s case for nearly 6 years.  However, reading article to article it is easy to miss story´s bigger picture.  This book´s purpose is to give a holistic approach.

 Chaiwat Satha – Anand said about the book:  … “This book is about people who live by the sea, using their nets to harvest the treasures from nature to earn their livelihood.  They have felt threatened by a new kind of creature coming to their shore and fought back. In fighting back, they have suffered the fate of a minority who dare to question the modern project, legitimized by conventional wisdom in the name of public benefit, supported by a popular government in a democratic context.

 The Nets of Resistance is an attempt to shed light on their marginal positions so that others might be able to understand more about  the protesters´ struggle and its importance to the larger Thai society.  But the understanding this book engenders  is unusual because it also reflects an existing legitimate rage of the protesters as well as a sense of duty of the journalists…“ 


 7. POEM


 Leopold Sédar Senghor.


Lord Jesus, at the end of this book, which I offer You

As a ciborium of sufferings

At the beginning of the Great Year, in the sunlight

Of Your peace on the snowy roofs of Paris

-- Yet I know that my brothers' blood will once more redden

The yellow Orient on the shores of the Pacific

Ravaged by storms and hatred

I know that this blood is the spring libation

The Great Tax Collectors have used for seventy years

To fatten the Empire's lands

Lord, at the foot of this cross - and it is no longer You

Tree of sorrow but, above the Old and New Worlds,

Crucified Africa,

And her right arm stretches over my land

And her left side shades America

And her heart is precious Haiti, Haiti who dared

Proclaim Man before the Tyrant

At the feet of my Africa, crucified for four hundred years

And still breathing

Let me recite to You, Lord, her prayer of peace and pardon.

Senegal (1906-2001)

The following is from an emailed newsletter received by Culture Change April 28, 2004.

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RESISTANCE Number 44 March 2004

Dear colleagues, 

In the first part of this bulletin we have included the joint declaration presented
during the meeting of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kuala
Lumpur by Oilwatch, the WRM and other organisations.

We also include news of the resistance of the Achuar peoples in Peru, news on oil
activities in the South, and as an information resource, some conversion charts in
units frequently used for oil and gas issues. 





Joint declaration for the Seventh COP of the Convention on Biological Diversity


Achuar people in Peru say "no" to oil exploration 


3.1. Africa:



3.2. Asia



3.3. Latin America:








9. POEM - from Costa Rica



Oilwatch, together with the WRM and Friends of the Earth International presented the
following Statement during the 7th Conference of the Parties of the CBD in Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia, held in February of this year. 



The World Rainforest Movement, Oilwatch and Friends of the Earth International (a
federation of 68 non-governmental environmental organizations from 65 countries)
believe that sustainable management of protected areas is a key pillar to
biodiversity conservation. However, we have noticed with regret the alarming rate at
which protected areas are being lost and decimated, due to the process of planning,
establishment and management, and more importantly, due to large-scale mining, oil
extraction and commercial logging activities. Most government designated protected
areas world-wide have been established at the exclusion of the rightful owners -
local communities and Indigenous Peoples - in the planning, establishment and
management of these areas. This is a clear violation of their ownership and rights.

Where then lies the protection and encouragement of customary use of biological
resources (article 10(c) of the Convention on Biodiversity) when local communities
and Indigenous Peoples are denied the right of access, under the flag of protection,
to the very resources that belong to them, while these resources are given out
eventually to large foreign conservation organizations, or to multinational
corporations for large-scale mining, oil exploration and logging activities.

To achieve sustainable management of protected areas and for that matter
biodiversity conservation, we urge parties to the CBD to adopt a program of work on
protected areas that clearly includes and explicitly safeguards the rights and
interests of local communities and Indigenous Peoples throughout the process of
planning, establishment and management of protected areas. We do not and will not
believe in parks without people, and we do not believe in a protected area program
without explicit safeguards for Indigenous Peoples' rights and other aspects of
social governance.

We also emphasize the need to include a clear reference to the rights, interests and
role of women regarding protected area planning, establishment and management.

Moreover, a work program on protected areas can only be considered credible if it
includes an explicit rejection of mining, oil exploration, and large-scale
commercial logging activities in and around protected areas.

Also in this light, it should be ensured that sufficient funds are allocated to
national conservation programmes, so that we don't need to sell out conservation to
private actors like foreign conservation organizations, and oil, mining and logging
corporations. We also support the call for Action of our Indonesian colleague
organizations in this regard "Conservation is not for Concession".

Kuala Lumpur, 11 February 2004



The US oil company Burlington Resources is awaiting the formal approval of the
Peruvian Ministry for Energy and Mines to withdraw from Block 64. The motives put
forward by the company include indigenous opposition to exploration activities.
Burlington reached an agreement with the US company Occidental Petroleum, operator
of the block, to withdraw from it and transfer its 25% participation to OXY. 
The block is in found in "circumstances beyond control" due to the opposition of
Achuar indigenous groups. When it leaves Block 64, Burlington will still keep its
other participation within Peru, continuing its exploration work in Blocks 70 and

The North of the Peruvian Amazon constitutes a vast collection of rivers and
currents, lakes, marshes and forests, including the marsh named the Abanico wetland
complex of the Pastaza River. This area was declared to be a RAMSAR site two years
ago. Furthermore it is the habitat to nine animal species found in Appendix I of
CITES and 17 species registered in the Red List of the UICN. But above all, this
region is the territory of the indigenous Achuar people of Peru. Traditional Achuar
territory comprises the Morona, Pastaza and Corrientes basins and tributaries in the
Loreto Department. This bi-national indigenous people  shares its territory with
Ecuador where they have also defended their forests and biological resources. 

In Peru the Achuar population is made up of approximately 14,000 people, distributed
between 80 communities and organised through three federations: ATI, ORACH and

For a decade the Achuar have managed to resist the strong pressure of oil companies
who aim to enter Block 64, but they suffer the pressurising strategies of the
companies every day. 

In spite of the persistent resistance of the Achuar people, the framework for
economic liberalisation in Peru legislation establishes the State's right to grant
concessions to use hydrocarbon resources, even if they are found in forests with
high biodiversity and extreme fragility, or in titled indigenous land. In this
context, Block 64 has been handed over on the basis of a 30-year old contract system
for oil deposits and a 40-year contract for natural gas, causing serious conflicts
in the imposition of rights and for the destruction of the Amazonian environment. 

It was in such a way that in 1995 the Peruvian Government established Block 64, with
953,790 hectares in Achuar territory, and handed over the exploration concession to
the US company Arco.  

The ILO Convention No. 169 is in effect in Peru, and prescribes due consultation by
the State of indigenous villages when activities to use natural resources are
planned within their territories, but neither the oil company nor the Government
took the presence of these peoples into account before deciding about their rights. 

When the Achuar people were informed of the government decision to hand over oil
concessions, they manifested their disagreement, basing their stance on the previous
dramatic experience of oil exploitation in neighbouring blocks 1AB y 8-8X. This was
carried out in a highly irresponsible fashion by the OXY company (now in the hands
of Pluspetrol) and to this day, 33 years later, operations that cause high
contamination of rivers and ground, loss of forest resources, serious and
irreversible impact to ecosystems and the health of the indigenous population
continue in the intervention areas. According to the Achuar, lead and mercury
deposits left behind from past oil work has remained, filtering into underground
water supplies and killing the oldest members of the Achuar population; they warned
that they are willing to rise up in arms against the oil companies. 

The Achuar maintain that they live in peace in their territory thanks to their
respect for nature, and express the commitment they must keep up with their
ancestors by offering permanent protection to their forests: their ancestors wanted
to leave their children with healthy land to live on, did not want damage caused to
the land, forests, their sacred places, animal shelters, the air and clean water,
did not want their social life to be interrupted by stopping them from using their
many intercommunication paths between families kept in the forest, did not want
customs to be lost, but rather wanted them to keep feeling proud of being Achuar.
The old Achuar warriors stated that they were determined to defend their land, if
necessary with their own lives. 

The tenacious decision of the Achuar of Block 64 to defend and protect their
environment, their forests, their life and culture permanently was a very arduous
process. According to the Achuar, during the dictatorial government of Fujimori,
civil servants received funding from the oil company to organise strategies to
divide up and persuade the population to accept oil activities, with gifts and
investment in health, education and other community public services, carried out by
a Multi-sector Commission made up of officials from all the Ministries responsible
for public services and under the leadership of the Defence Ministry. Fujimori's
government also used more perverse resources, such as false accusations,
intimidation, telephone tapping, military investigations and threats to the Achuar
and staff of the Racimos de Ungurahui, a non-governmental organisation that supports
the Achuar in their struggle. 

Thanks to the hard struggle of the Achuar, and their persistent resistance to
government pressures, Arco abandoned Block 64. Nevertheless, in 2001 the block was
transferred to the Occidental Petroleum Company (OXY), the operator with 50% of the
interests in Block 64. The remaining 50% is held jointly by North American partners
Burlington Resources (who announced its withdrawal) and Repsol-YPF from Spain. 

Burlington is a company with great influence in the North American government, since
one of the main shareholders is linked to the people very close to President George

The extraction operations have still not been started, but OXY has begun with a plan
to divide up the organisation of the Achuar, and have achieved so in seven
communities found far away from most of the Achuar communities within the area of
Block 64; these communities have signed an agreement accepting a payment in exchange
for oil activities being carried out on their land. A scholarship programme in Lima
is also being developed jointly with the Ministry for Energy and Mines, to train
young indigenous people as facilitators and community relations representatives for
the company in their communities; these young people are already working on forming
links and offering benefits that the oil company will bring when it comes into the

Achuar organisations have decided to act with greater precision this time, and
strengthen their organisation for this new intensive stage of oil intervention with
OXY, for which reason they are planning a communication strategy with communities,
with permanent meetings to encourage conversation and follow up the problem, holding
training workshops on indigenous rights, principally aimed at leaders who will then
replicate them in their villages. There are plans to boost indigenous development
plans and to pay attention to problems in all aspects of indigenous life, identified
in the Achuar Life Plan and entrusted to the organisation. 

These peoples are also working intensely to consolidate the unity of the Achuar
people between Ecuador and Peru. The territory of the Achuar was the scene of a war
between the two countries for over 50 years. Since the signing of the peace accord
between Ecuador and Peru in 1998, the Achuar have actively participated in meetings
oriented to planning actions to exercise the fundamental right of all people to live
united in peace.

The Achuar in Ecuador, who share the same problem of having oil blocks superimposed
on their land in Ecuador and Peru, have decided to maintain the permanent protection
of their forests and not accept the development of oil activities in their land. 

Source: Reuters and Racimos de Ungurahui, Peru (





Exploration for oil in Tunisia started in 1966 in the El Borma plain. The peak in
production was reached in 1998 with 110000 barrels per day (bpd) and then descended
to 82000 bpd in 1999. On top of that, 675 Dcf of natural gas is extracted. During
the next years around $400 million will be invested in exploration, above all in the
Gabes Gulf where there are reserves estimated to reach over 1500 million barrels of
crude. Tunisia has a refinery with a processing capacity of 34000 bpd. Despite the
Tunisia's potential, compared to its neighbour Algeria, its production is small. 

The main oil fields in Tunisia are El Borma, Ashtart and Sidi el Kilani, and the
most important gas fields are El Borma (associated gas) and the Miskar offshore
field. In El Borma and Ashtart Túnez heavy crude is also produced. 

28 national and foreign companies are present in Tunisia, including: Agip, Anadarko,
EHT, British Gas, Centurion Oil, CMS Oil and Gas, Samedan Oil, Marathon Oil, Kuwait
Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (Kufpec), TotalFinaElf, Neste Oy, Oranje
Nassau, Union Texas Petroleum, Petro-Canada, Phillips Petroleum, Pluspetrol, EGEP
and Walter Enserch.

Recently the US company New Energy acquired the permit to explore the Alyane field
and the bi-national company Tunisia-Libya will explore in the oilfields in
bi-national waters. 

Currently Tunisia has disputes over maritime areas with Libya, and also with Malta
on the commercial exploitation of oilfields in the continental platform between the
two countries.

Also Eurogas, as an operator, GHP Exploration y ETAP (Enterprise Tunisienne
d'Activites Petrolieres) have started exploration work in El Hamra, 175km south-east
of the Gabes port. 

There are currently 13 blocks ready to tender and the most important of them are
found on the border with Algeria. 

These include Galite (9000 Km2), Cap Serrat (7400 Km2) and Bechater (8600 Km2), to
the North.  Among the central blocks are Bahloul (1500 Km2), Mezzouna (4700 Km2) and
South Tozeur (2800 Km2). The Eastern blocks include Kelibia (2600 Km2), Bargou (3400
Km2), Nabeul (4000 Km2), the offshore block Mahdia (5600 Km2), Kaboudia (4500 Km2),
Sidi Mansour (3700 Km2) and La Skhira (3900 Km2).  

A few weeks ago the Tunisian subsidiary of ENI, Agip Tunisia BV, and its partner
Paladin Resources PLC, found crude in the Awá-1 well in the Borj el Khadra field in
the South of the country. AGIP claims that in this field there are reserves of more
than 46 million barrels and that they hold deposits similar to those of the Adam
producer oilfields discovered in the Borj el Khadra fields in 2002.  It is hoped
that the field will be in production by the start of 2004.

If ETAP confirms its intention to participate in the field in development, the
interests will be shared out in the following way: Agip 35%, ETAP 30%, Pioneer
Natural Resources 28% y Paladin Resources 7%.

Sources: Oil and gas Journal




Kenya is a country that still does not produce oil, nevertheless its exploration
projects are greater and greater in number. As in Tanzania, the best prospects in
Kenya are offshore.

The two main exploration areas, offshore and onshore, are in the Lamu bay along the
Southern coast of the country. Exploration work started in the 60s and 70s. Around
30 exploratory wells have been drilled, the largest number by the BP-Shell
consortium. From this time onwards, new projects and exploration work are being
carried out by other smaller companies. 

In 1997, the Canadian company Tornado obtained licences to explore in the Eastern
region of the country, in the Mandera block, previously property of Shell, and where
results were already obtained in 1993. 

More recently, in August 2002, the government handed concessions to Afrex (a company
registered in the Virgin islands) and others to the Australian PanContinental Oil
and Gas for onshore and offshore operations in the Kwale and Kilifi districts on the
country's coast.  In May 2003, Woodside bought 40% of the operations of Dana
Petroleum and Star (20%) in deep water in the Lamu marine basin (Blocks L5, L7, L10
and L11), just to the north of the Shell 9-12 blocks in neighbouring Tanzania. In
July of last year, Woodside started seismic exploration in a portion of these
blocks, but results are not expected until 2005.

The limited exploration in this region of Africa contrasts with the Western coasts
of the continent, which continue to attract the biggest oil companies of the world.
Nevertheless, since the election of Mwai Kibaki as President of Kenya at the end of
2002 it is hoped that new investments will be made in this country.

Although it seems that the country does not have abundant reserves, the Community of
East African States has been set up, in which Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are
present. This association has revived a lively interest in promoting private
investment in energy, after having once been dissolved in 1977.

This is confirmed by the fact that the Kenyan government has invested nearly $1.6
million in exploration to attract more investors, and that the State National Oil
Company of Kenya (NOCK) has put 17 blocks out to tender. These blocks are in Nakuru,
Anza Graben, Mandera basin and the Lamu Bay. The blocks are mainly onshore with the
exception of South Lamu, which offers offshore blocks.

Kenya has a refinery with a processing capacity of 90,000 barrels per day, and the
demand for fuels amounts to 54,000 bpd.  The distribution system consists of roads,
train and an oil pipeline system whose main route is Mombasa-Nairobi, in terrible
conditions. There is a second oil pipeline from Eldoret to Kisumu in the west of the

The Kenyan and Ugandan governments have also announced that they will carry out
works to increase the capacity to transport fuels, from Eldoret in Kenya to Kampala
in Uganda, under the auspices of the EAC.

Sources: Petroleum Economist



3.2. ASIA


PETRONAS, the Malaysian State company, is engaged in increasing exploration and
exploitation programmes within the country and other places in the world. It current
objective on a national level is the Peninsular offshore fields as well as Eastern
Malaysia. Currently PETRONAS has 47 oil fields already in production, five of which
possess crude of high quality. Malaysia currently extracts 600,000 bpd and 5 billion
cubic feet of gas.

It is calculated that the Malaysian reserves are around 3.2 billion barrels of crude
and nearly 87.5 trillion cubic feet of gas. With its activities outside the country,
PETRONAS has accumulated its international reserves of an equivalent to nearly 3.7
billion of petrol, including the offshore reserves of the Malaysia-Thailand Joint
Development Area in the Gulf of Thailand.

This area is divided up into several blocks:

-         Block A-18 with PETRONAS Carigali (JDA) Sdn Bhd (subsidiary of PETRONAS
Carigali), and Triton Oil Company from Thailand

-         Block B-17 and Block C-19 with PETRONAS Carigali (JDA) Sdn Bhd and
Carigali-PTTEP International Operating Company (CPOC). 

The joint Trans-Thailand-Malaysia Oil Pipeline System project will transport gas
from the MTJDA project to Changlun in Malaysia. This will be one of the key projects
in the follow-up of the TransAsian system. 

The majority of oil production is close to the Malaya Peninsula in the waters
bordering Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

The Truong Son Joint Operating Co. (JOC) has made a new offshore discovery in Block
46/02 in the Malaysia-Vietnam Commercial Agreement Area. JOC is property of
PetroVietnam Exploration & Production Co., (40% of shares), Talisman Ltd. (a
subsidiary of Talisman Energy Inc with headquarters Calgary and 30%) and PETRONAS
Carigali Overseas Sdn. Bhd. (subsidiary of PETRONAS with the remaining 30%).  

Furthermore Tiga (PETRONAS, Shell and Mitsubishi) is in the project with $1.5
billion of LNG. 

After PETRONAS, Murphy is the company with the greatest success last year in
Malaysia. Murphy Oil discovered important deposits of crude in Kikeh, to the South
of Block K. It is hoped that this block will come into production in 2007.  

Apart from PETRONAS and Murphy, other foreign firms dominating the oil scene in
Malaysia are ExxonMobil, Shell, Unocal, Total, Husky, Inpex, Santos, ENI, Amerada
Hess, ConocoPhillips and BHP.

Shell (operator and owner of 40%) is exploring in Blocks G and J, in Sabah, in deep
waters. Shell's partners are ConocoPhillips (40%) and PETRONAS Carigali (20%). 

Due to industrial development, Malaysia will be a net importer of hydrocarbons in
2010. As a way of dealing with this the oil companies are increasing their
exploration work (in Sabah and Sarawak). This is also being done in other countries
in the region so as to take hydrocarbons to Malaysia. Fields are being developed in
Brunei, in the Peral river basin in China, in the basin at the northeast of Palawan
in the Philippines, and in the Kunei basin at Kalimantan in Indonesia. 

Sources: Oil and gas Journal

Petroleum Economist



In India, coal continues to be the main primary energy source, reaching nearly 56%
of the total. There are however 25 sedimentary basins in the country that cover an
area of 1.78 million Km2, almost 82% onshore and the rest offshore.  The large part
of the oil industry in India is under State control. 

The State company Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) practically has a monopoly
on the upstream sector. 

The total of proven reserves reaches nearly 5 billion barrels of crude and 660
billion cubic metres of gas. These reserves, according to current oil consumption
patterns, will last for the next 20 years and the gas for 30 years. 

Currently India produces more than 700,000 barrels of oil per day and around 7
billion cubic feet.

The ONGC company has recently made six new discoveries, in West Vasai (crude and
gas), GS-49 (gas) and GS-KW (offshore oil and gas) in Krishna-Godavari, Chinnewala
Tibba (gas) in Rajasthan, and Laipling-gaon (oil and gas) and Banamali (oil), both
in Assam.

Indian state interests are also in other countries, such as Russia, Iran, Iraq,
Libya, Burma, Vietnam and others. 


To see maps of the hydrocarbon sector in India, visit:




Annual oil production in Peru amounts to over 90,000 bpd of crude and 44,542
thousand cubic feet of gas per day.

The main companies operating in Peru are: 


      China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) (45%)
      G. M. P. S.A. (100%)  - KOREA

      G. M. P. S.A. (100%)  - KOREA

     VII / VI
     31-B - 31-D
      AGUAYTIA ENERGY OF PERU SRLtda (100%) - The shareholders Aguaytia Energy of
Peru S.R.L., are subsidiaries of: Duke Energy International Company; El Paso
Energy International Company; Dynegy (Illinova Generating Company); Scudder
Latin American Power Fund; Pennsylvania Power & Light (PP&L) Global, LLC and
The Maple Gas Corporation


1/3 %) - KOREA






      GMP PLC (100%) - KOREA



Not long ago new contracts were signed between the Peruvian government and the
Peruvian branch of REPSOL EXPLORATION PERU to explore Block 90 in the Southern
Jungle, and another with the Peruvian Branch of BPZ ENERGY INC to explore Block XIX
located in the Northeast. Petrobras ENERGY PERU PLC, which was exploring Block 99 in
the Central Jungle, ended its contract with the Peruvian government. As a
consequence of these changes, on 31 December 2003 Peru had 27 contracts, of which 15
are for exploitation and 12 for exploration.

Several of these contracts are found in indigenous Amazonian land:

     In production

     In production

     In production

     In production
     In exploration

     In production

     In exploration





     Seismic, wells

     In exploration
     In exploration


     In development






     In exploration




     In exploration

Business News Americas

Racimos de Ungurahui - Peru

Peruvian Energy Ministry 

To see the Oil Activities Map in Peru visit: 



In Nicaragua oil production still does not exist although the first exploration
projects were started in the 30s. In the 70s activities were started once again by
different international oil companies who carried out exploration and drilling
programmes in the country's continental platforms.

The main exploration areas are the Miskito and Perlas basins on the outside Atlantic
coast and the Sandino basin on the Pacific outside coast, with an approximate total
area of 120,00 Km2. The results of these exploration programmes indicate that
commercial deposits could exist, as both basins have a depth surpassing 10,000
metres. Shell, Esso and Unocal were the main companies present during this decade.

The so-called Miskito basin is found on Nicaragua's Caribbean coast and here past
exploratory activities had the result of the production of 25,000 Km of seismic
lines and drilling of 24 exploratory wells offshore and two wells onshore. Oil
exploration activities were suspended in 1978 due to internal conflicts in the

Years later, in 1999, a new marine seismic survey was led by the Norwegian company
Fugro-Geoteam, allowing the identification of new structural and stratographic
elements that had not been identified previously, and as a consequence, a more
precise localisation for future drilling (Sub-basin of Wonta - Verolania - East Nica
Ridge and San Juan). Along the Caribbean coast, 22,918 Km of marine seismic were
carried out, with registers of 26 exploratory wells drilled offshore and 2 onshore.
In May 1999, another 3,097 Km of marine seismic lines were explored by French

The Pacific coast of Nicaragua comprises the so-called Sandino basin, located
opposite the Caribbean plate of Nicaragua, covers an area of more than 30,000 km2;
it includes the Pacific platform of Nicaragua and on land extends as far as the
Nicaragua Depression, which reaches the Northeast and Eastern border of the basin.
Different oil companies operate in this region, mainly on the marine platform. In
the 70s approximately 10,900 Km of marine seismic lines were surveyed and 6
exploratory wells drilled, 4 offshore and 2 onshore. The oil exploration campaign
was held in the 1970s. Statoil and Geco-Prakla were the main companies present at
this time.

Recently in the Pacific Coast, 7,713 Km of marine seismic lines were reprocessed.
There are registers of 4 exploratory wells drilled offshore and also 1,360 Km of
seismic marine line 2D explored in 1990.  

In June 1998, new oil legislation was approved, to promote, regulate and establish
basic conditions that govern hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities in
the country, as well as transport, storage and sale.

The total area subject to the first tender comprises 150,907 square km, distributed
in the following way: 113.938 km² in the Caribbean offshore, 3,423 km² in the
Pacific offshore and 33.546 km² in the Pacific offshore. Exploration of the blocks
will start in April 2004. The depths of the Caribbean will be the main zones to be
explored. If oil is found, the operator would have a contract for at least 30 years.

The last technical investigations, carried out by Japanese scientists with cutting
edge technology, "determined the existence of oil in a bedrock located in a basin of
the Caribbean Sea in Nicaragua, with a potential equivalent to 50 years", according
to information from the Nicaraguan Energy Institute. 

After the round of tendering, four US companies (Infinity, MKJ Exploraciones,
Oklanicsa and Hellen Greathouse) will advance this year towards the exploitation of
oil and natural gas in Nicaragua, after finishing negotiations with the government
on a sea and land concession for five years.

In the eventuality of there being successful results, preliminary calculations
foresee production of 50,000 barrels per day of 159 litres of oil, and some 83,200
litres per day of natural gas, which would provide the country with $300 million per
The exploration activities that will start in September and last eight months, will
characterise the prospection area, the way of life of communities, marine life forms
and fauna susceptible to extinction.

The concession covers zones that reach Nicaragua's marine limits in the Caribbean
(excluding Corn island as well as the Miskitos, Peras and other islets found in the
zone) and the Pacific (excluding beaches), an area of land on the Caribbean coast
and another between Managua and the Rivas department to the South of the country. 

In the Caribbean there are 140 indigenous communities, with 70-80,000 people of
Miskito, Sumo, Rama and Garífuna ethnicity, as well as many mixed-race people; many
of these will be affected by oil activities.



Petroleum Economist

Map of Oil Explorations in Nicaragua please visit: 




In Qatar, a member of OPEC, oil amounts to more than 50% of the country's GDP and
over 85% of its exports. Its proven reserves amount to 15.2 billion barrels, which
means that according to the current rate of extraction, the reserves will only last
for 23 years. As for proven reserves of gas, there are around 18 trillion cubic
metres, representing more than 5% of the world total and is the third biggest
reserve in the world.

Currently it produces more than 860,000 bpd, since in January 2002 OPEC members
decided to reduce their production quota.

The Dukhan offshore field, located on the Western coast of the country is the
biggest oilfield; there are six more offshore fields: Bul Hanine, Maydan Mahzam, Id
al-Shargi North Dome, al-Shaheen, al-Rayyan, and al-Khalij. Crude from Qatar is of
high quality, between 24o and 41o API degrees. The main consumers of oil from Qatar
are in Asia. 

Currently, transnational companies extract a third of crude produced in the country,
and these same companies are pressuring so that the daily production rise to over 1
million bpd.

For example, ChevronTexaco has a contract with the Qatar government to operate in an
area of 6,740 Km2, known as Block 2 (almost all of the territory), except for the
Dukhan field. This company also possesses the No.1 offshore field, along with the
Hungarian company MOL.

Another offshore field recently in operation is the al-Rayyan field, in the hands of
Anadarko, previously run by BP BG, Wintershall, and Gulfstream Petroleum. 

In turn, the al-Khalij field started to produce in 1997, after five years of
exploration at a rate of 6,000 bbl/d. Al-Khalij is located in Block 6, along the
length of the maritime border with Iran. The development of this field was suspended
in 1991 by Elf Aquitaine Qatar, but in 2002 it reached production of 60,000 bpd and
this will be increased to 80,000 bpd. The crude is of 18% API degrees with only 1%

Other important fields are Maydan Mahzam (60,000 bpd), property of Qatar Petroleum;
Bul Hanine (75,000 bbl/d) with 700 million barrels of recoverable reserves;
al-Shaheen, operated by the Danish company Maersk Oil Qatar (110,000 bpd), located
in Block 5; al-Shargi North Dome (ISND), initially discovered by Shell and now
operated by Occidental Petroleum (12,000 bpd.) who hope to reach 90,000 bpd with new

As far as natural gas is concerned, Qatar has reserves of 509 trillion cubic feet
(Tcf), falling into third place behind Russia and Iran. The majority of gas is found
in the North of the country, which is the biggest associated gas field in the world.
Additionally, the Dukhan onshore field contains an estimated 5 Tcf of associated gas
and 0.5 Tcf of non-associated gas. Other reserves are in al-Shargi, Maydan Mahzam,
Bul Hanine, and al-Rayyan.

As for the downstream sector, ExxonMobil reached an agreement with the Qatar
government that allows the production and sending of 15.6 million tonnes of
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to the United States. This project represents the
largest importation of LNG for US consumption.

The gas will come from the Ras Laffan LNG (RasGas) reserves in the North of Qatar,
which has proven reserves of over 900 trillion cubic feet, of which over 26 trillion
cubic feet are destined to this project. The project will be up and running in 2008.

RasGas, a joint venture between ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum, will build all the
installations for the LNG in the industrial city of Ras Laffan.  Meanwhile,
Occidental will invest in better technology for discovering new oil deposits. 


Petroleum Economist

Oil and gas Journal



Oceans are reservoirs and redistributory agents of many important constituents of
the world's climatic system, among them: temperature, freshwater and carbon dioxide.

While these constituents are actively exchanged in the atmosphere, salt is a
composite that remains in the ocean in essence. 

The measurement of salt levels in sea water allows us to diagnose the flows of
freshwater that pour into it.
In this investigation, the authors show us that the levels of salinity in the
Atlantic Ocean between the 1950s and 1990s have varied according to latitude.
Towards the poles the level of salinity has diminished, while at low latitudes it
has increased.

These results are yet another consequence of climate change and show the changes in
hydrological systems and cycles in the world.


Nature Magazine 426, 18 December 2003


GAVORA, Dieter. URUCU. The social, ecological and economic impact of the "Urucu" oil
and gas project in the state of Amazonas. Curitiba. Brazil. 2003.

The Urucu project forms part of the opening up for oil in the heart of the Amazon,
in spite of the enormous questioning on behalf of the riverside communities, the
population of Coari (the central location of the project), ecologists and other
NGOs. The local riverside population in the Brazilian Amazon, with their traditional
and sustainable economies, are the main people affected by this project.

This investigation, carried out between 1998 and 2000, presents as preliminary
results the enormous social and environmental impact presented by the project along
its gas pipeline and secondary pipelines.

The content of the book includes detailed information on the affected population,
and about the city of Coarí. There is also a chapter with historical data about oil
in the Brazilian Amazon, and on the Urucu project. Finally, it includes information
with instruments for control and vigilance of the project, and alternative energy

More information on the Urucu project:



Adilson Vieira


INDIA: New oil discoveries in the Gulf

The Times of India, 15 January 2004

The new findings have been qualified as the biggest deposits in the world outside
the Arabic peninsular. They have been found in the region of Rajasthan. British Oil
and the British-owned Cairn Energy announced that initial estimates found in the
zone, to the South of the Saraswati river, are of approximately 500 million barrels
of crude.

The finding is similar to that found in the Krishna Godavari basin in March of last
year, which was initially calculated to have reserves of 1.2 billion barrels. 

Cairn has been involved in intense exploration along the 5000 km2 of the Rajasthan
Block, but has still not made a formal presentation of its discoveries.
Nevertheless, according to its manager in London, Bill Gammell, these findings will
be very important to the company's profile. 

Cairn shares rose by 40% after this information leaked out, with the company's
current value around $1.4 billion. This is the biggest all-British company in
exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons. 
The Indian Oil Minister, Ram Naik, said that the recent findings will make this
State into the third biggest fuel provider in the country, after Gujarat and Assam.

According to the manager of the State company ONGC, Subir Raha, the discovery was
medium-sized. The giant State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation has the rights to
30% of any development and all commercial discoveries in this area. 

Experts coincide in stating that the quality of the crude is similar to that of the
North Sea, or even to that of the Middle East, only that the reserves are much

Cairn has paid much attention to Bangladesh as well as India in recent years.
However it recently threatened to abandon its blocks in Bangladesh when the country
refused to sell its gas to India, the main market for oil and gas in the region.

The CAIRN ENERGY company, based in Edinburgh, has signed an agreement with the State
company India Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) for the joint exploration of
two blocks in the country.

Cairn has 90% of interest in the KG-DWN-98/2 offshore block in the Krishna Godavari
marine basin, waters outside Andhra Pradesh. The results were encouraging, although
the discovery of an estimated 14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas by Reliance
Industries in the adjacent block won more attention from investors. 

Cairn also maintains 15% of the interest for exploration in the CB/OS-2 block and
10% in the Lakshmi and Gauri areas of the CB/OS-2 block; and 30% in each of the
GV-ONN-97/1 (in the north of India) and CB-ONN-2001/1 (in Gujarat) blocks, both
belonging to ONGC. 


     103 Btu
     kg GLP
     m3 Gas Nat.
     pc Gas Nat.
      103 Btu
      kg GLP
      m3 Gas Nat.
      pc Gas Nat.

  a.. 1bbl GLP = 0.6701 Bep 
  b.. 1bbl = 0.15898 m3 = 5.6143 pc
  c.. 1m3 GLP = 552.4 kg
  d.. 1pc = 0.028317 m3

     Barriles / Barrels
     Barriles equivalentes de petróleo 
     Barrels of oil equivalent
     Unidad Térmica Británica / British Thermal Unit
     Gigavatios / Gigawatts
     Gigavatios-hora / Gigawatt-hour
     Habitantes / Inhabitants
     Kilogramo / Kilogram
     Kilovatios-hora / Kilowatt-hour
     Gas Licuado de Petróleo
     Liquefied Petroleum Gas
     Metros cúbicos / Cubic meters
     Megavatios / Megawatts
     Megavatios-hora / Megawatt-hour
     No aplicable / not applicable
     Pies cúbicos / Cubic feet
     Teracalorías / Teracalories
     Toneladas equivalentes de carbón /
     Tons of coal equivalent
     Toneladas equivalentes de petróleo /
     Tons of oil equivalent
     Toneladas métricas / Metric tons
     Teravatios-hora / Terawatt-hour
Source: OLADE, Energy-Economic Information System (SIEE) 

     X BY:
      barrel [for petroleum, 42 gallons (U.S.)] (bbl)
     cubic meter (m3)
     1.589873 E-01
      barrel [for petroleum, 42 gallons (U.S.)] (bbl)
     liter (L)
     1.589873 E+02
      cubic foot (ft3)
     cubic meter (m3)
     2.831685 E-02
      gallon [Canadian and U.K. (Imperial)] (gal)
     cubic meter (m3)
     4.54609 E-03
      gallon [Canadian and U.K. (Imperial)] (gal)
     liter (L)
      gallon (U.S.) (gal)
     cubic meter (m3)
     3.785412 E-03
      gallon (U.S.) (gal)
     liter (L)
      liter (L)
     cubic meter (m3)
     1.0 E-03
UK gallon = 1.201 US gallons 
US gallon = 0.8327 UK gallons 
UK bulk barrel = 36 UK gallons = 43.2342 US gallons = 0.1637 u.m.

9. POEM 


Those who cut down life

who break off the air and kill the wind

make themselves deaf to the cry and sob

of the river, the plants and the flowers.


Those who see a Colón* signs in the mountains

feel happy when they see the desert.

Crossing its own path while crying with sorrow 

the earth cracked open, the skin extremely dry,

the vultures flying around stones

the plants withered with faces of sadness

the rivers drowning of thirst and hope.


So life confronts death,

they fight a duel with many weapons,

the fight is horrible, the sun fades away 
silence howls hidden in the shadows

while a cloud moves discreetly

looking to escape from such a struggle.


The brawl finishes, death sits up straight,

with laughter and cries the desert celebrates

life falls flat in the sand

sobs are heard crossing the mountain

the mourning sky hides itself in nothingness.

Walter Quesada Fernández, Costa Rican poet.

* Colón is the currency of Costa Rica


Resistanceen mailing list

The following is from an emailed newsletter received by Culture Change October 9, 2003

September 2003



Dear Friends:


The central theme of this issue of Resistance is oil refineries. 


The country with the largest capacity for oil refinery in the world is the United States (16.510 thousand barrels a day in 1999), followed by Japan (5.110 thousand barrels a day in 1999), China (5.020 thousand barrels a day in 1999) and Germany (2240 thousand barrels a day in 1999).


But there are other countries, especially islands that have a high refinery capacity compared with their territorial area and their energy needs.  This group of countries includes Singapore.  In the past two of the biggest refineries were in Aruba and Curacao, both Dutch colonies.  Today their refinery capacity is relatively low related to world capacity, but in continues to be an important factor in the internal economy, as well as factor regarding environmental and social impacts that this activity generates. 


The first refinery in Aruba was built by Shell in 1928 (Eagle Oil Refinery).  In 1932, Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon) built the Lago refinery.  Shell pulled out of Aruba in 1953, but it is still the seventh largest refinery in the world and employs more than 16% of the island’s population.  The refinery was closed in 1985 and reopened again in 1990 by the Texan company Coastal Corporation.  El Paso Energy now operates it. 


It has been frequently identified that the refineries have a “environmental racism” character, and because of this many groups that work in the area of environmental justice have dedicated much time and energy to the theme of refineries.  


International Secretariat

















5.1.           VENEZUELA

5.2.           EQUATORIAL GUINEA

5.3.           SINGAPORE








7.1.           NIGERIA




8.1.           INDONESIA

8.2.           ECUADOR


  1. POEM







- Contamination of superficial waters


A refinery produces waste in different areas:


Processing area, cemented areas, in the storage tanks, in the system for the treatment for residual wasters and oil wastes. 


Other sources of contamination are those that come from the polyduct and flow lines. 


The contamination of superficial waters can be aggravated with a bad drainage system and the system of rain water collection that is used for the collection of waste from the different processes, such as oil substances that come from the separator, discharges from laboratories, cooling waters, and condensation. 


Treatment systems consist of aeration of water in pools, which contain high levels of contaminants, including phenol chromates, benzeno and others.  These pools can overflow and contaminate everything around them.


The operations in the refineries produce solid and liquid waste, some of it routine and some accidental, that infiltrates subsoil. 


In staid of permanent filtration pools for the collection of wastes, the pools can be simple excavations in the ground with evacuation channels that lead to other bodies of water. 


The refineries also produce particle emissions, volatile hydrocarbons and the combustion of oil-based fuel generates particles of sulfur dioxide, nitrate oxide, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.  These emissions are released in the distinct phases of operation, including the catalytic unit, the heating process of hydrosulfuration, burning of gas, the storage of crude oil and refined products. 


S02 in the refinery is transformed into H2S04 when it comes in contact with clouds and this produces acid rain. 


Sulfur can be smelt several kilometers from the refinery. 


Many of the volatile and toxic chemicals released in the air can enter into the body through breathing, or through the skin, and can produce irritation in the eyes.  Other contaminants include ammonium, methanol, hexane, the gas additive MTBE and many others associated with cancer. 


Those organic compounds that contain lead can be poisons, carcinogenic and affect reproductive processes. 


The refinery operations also produce noise contamination.  The main sources of this type of contamination are the high velocity compressors, control valves, the oil pipeline system, vapor turbines and the chimneys where the gas is burned. 


The level of noise is typically between 60-110 dBA at a distance of one meter from the source of the noise.  It has been registered that when a person is exposed to noise that is above 90 DBA for 8 hours non-stop, that there ear can be physically damaged, as well as stress is produced. 


The majority of primary material and liquid additives of intermediary products in the process of crude refinery are volatile.  


There are very weak security measures in the refinery to control temperatures, inflammable material, explosives, corrosives and products that contain highly toxic components. 



In transport operation and in the storage and manipulation of oil and its derivatives, there is always the danger of fires from explosions, which constitutes a constant danger for the plant, the local population and ecosystems. 


Leaks and fires make the refinery a time bomb since at any moment it could blow up.  This provokes stress, fear and other psychological alternations, manifested by loss of sleep, falling off horses, little attention given to children in the home, and other psychological unbalances. 


Gasoline, one of the products of the refinery, possesses great quantities of additives, including lead, which is associated with cancer. 


The groups of human beings that are at risk include employees of the refinery, including those that work win the distribution, storage and sale of products; as well as the populations that live close to the refinery, service stations, storage sites, and those who drink the contaminated water. 







(AFP) – Two workers died and another two were hurt as the result of an accident in the Refinery El Palito, in the state of Carabobo, 100 kilometers west of Caracas, the state Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) informed. "Guillermo Pérez (38) and Rafael Álvarez (29), both employees in the area of maintenance of the Refinery El Palito, died from affixation when they were working on a routine activity in the Alkyls plant of the complex”, said a communiqué from management of this refinery. 


The two injured employees were taken to a nearby hospital and “are in stable condition” the statement said. 


The manager of the refinery, Asdrubal Chávez, said in a press conference that a technical committee will establish the cause of the deaths. 


"We don’t have any explosions or fires, the plant is currently operating”, he said to reporters, and added that sabotage could be a possible cause of the accident. 













Emmanuel Aziken

Vanguard (Lagos)

July 5, 2003


Abuja .-  Rep. Leo Ogor (Isoko, Delta State) has called for the prosecution of all those involved in the failed Turn Around Maintenance projects of the country's oil refineries estimated to have gulped $700 million.


Briefing newsmen in Abuja Thursday, Mr. Ogor lamenting that the ensuing fuel crisis has exposed the incompetence of the Nigerian nation warned that the N40 per liter price of petrol would soon be jacked up unless the fundamental issues bedeviling the sector were addressed.


Lamenting that $700 million had been poured down the drain in the turn around maintenance of the refineries, the legislator observed with disdain that the contractors and agents of the companies that executed the rehabilitation were walking freely in the society.


"Why are we in this mess? The people that are supposed to be doing their jobs are not doing their jobs those jobs were not done and these people are walking about as free men probably around the corridors of power wanting to get more jobs from the system."


Mr. Ogor asserted that the government approach to the issue through increasing prices of petroleum products to check smuggling would in itself turn again to hurt the economy warning that inflationary pressures would sooner or later upset present government projections.


"This will lead to inflation which will again lead to depreciation of the naira which will in turn lead to more smuggling and then new pressures to push up prices of the petroleum products". He affirmed that the only way out was for the government to look inwards and build more refineries warning that failure to do so would lead to escalation of prices. "I can assure you that in the next two years we will also be faced with another petrol increase because the main issue has not been addressed."


"The idea of concentrating on imports should be stopped, so we have to come out with policies on looking inwards, because if we do not look inwards we won't go anywhere."


Look at all the oil producing countries, none of them is importing petrol.


According to Mr. Ogor, the basic flaw in the oil sector was traceable to the import orientation syndrome of the society which has made the citizenry to be subjected to import as a way of life.


"The first refinery came in the sixties and that was the time that Indonesia, Malaysia also built their first refinery. Forty years after, go to Indonesia you will be amazed that their refineries are functioning effectively, they are able to build their own refineries but today instead of addressing the main issue we are talking about importation of petrol."


Sources:  OilResistance-Africa









The five oil refinery companies with the largest income in 2002 were:

Cosmo Oil Company Ltd (Japan)

Nippon Oil Corp (Japan)

Showa Shell Sekiku KK (Japan)

Toen General Sekiku KK (Japan)

Valero Energy Corp. (USA)






COUNTRY                                        AMOUNT

1.         Kuwait                                                421.11 barrels per day per 1000 people

2.            Bahrain                                              379.19 barrels per day per 1000 people

3.            Singapore                                        291.96 barrels per day per 1000 people

4.         United Arab Emirates                    210.45 barrels per day per 1000 people

5.         Saudi Arabia                                                74.43 barrels per day per 1000 people

6.         Qatar                                                  72.48 barrels per day per 1000 people

7.            Norway                                              68.51 barrels per day per 1000 people

8.         Libya                                                   63.96 barrels per day per 1000 people

9.            Azerbaijan                                        56.68 barrels per day per 1000 people

10.            Taiwan                                              54.11 barrels per day per 1000 people

11.       Korea, South                                      53.8 barrels per day per 1000 people

12.       Russia                                                45.52 barrels per day per 1000 people

13.            Australia                                             43.29 barrels per day per 1000 people

14.       Italy                                                      39.85 barrels per day per 1000 people

15.            Greece                                              38.19 barrels per day per 1000 people

16.       Japan                                                 37.8 barrels per day per 1000 people

17.       Israel                                                   36.49 barrels per day per 1000 people

18.       Spain                                                  32.44 barrels per day per 1000 people

19.            France                                              31.79 barrels per day per 1000 people

20.       Oman                                                  31.33 barrels per day per 1000 people

21.            Portugal                                             30.16 barrels per day per 1000 people

22.            Kazakhstan                                       25.51 barrels per day per 1000 people

23.       Brunei                                                 24.51 barrels per day per 1000 people

24.            Ukraine                                              23.76 barrels per day per 1000 people

25.            Malaysia                                           22.7 barrels per day per 1000 people





Country                                             Amount

1.         Russia                                                6.6 million bbl/d (1/1/02E)

2.         Japan                                                 4.8 million bbl/d (1/1/02E)

3.         China                                                  4.5 million bbl/d (1/1/02E)

4.         Korea, South                                      2.6 million bbl/d (1/1/02)

5.         Italy                                                      2.30 million bbl/d (12/1/02E)

6.         India                                                    2.1 million bbl/d (1/1/03E)

7.            France                                              1.9 million bbl/d (1/1/03E)

8.         Brazil                                                  1.8 million bbl/d (1/1/02)

9.         Saudi Arabia                                                1.75 million bbl/d (1/1/02)

10.            Mexico                                              1.7 million bbl/d (1/1/03E)

11.            Singapore                                        1.3 million bbl/d (1/1/02E)

12.       Spain                                                  1.3 million bbl/d (1/1/03E)

13.            Taiwan                                              1,220,000 bbl/d (1/1/02E)

14.            Ukraine                                              1.15 million bbl/d (1/1/02E)

15.            Indonesia                                           992,745 bbl/d (1/1/02E)

16.       Kuwait                                                889,200 bbl/d (1/1/03E)

17.            Australia                                             846,250 bbl/d (1/1/02E)

18.       Egypt                                                  726,250 bbl/d (1/1/03E)

19.       Turkey                                     719,275 bbl/d (1/1/03E)

20.            Thailand                                            681,750 bbl/d (1/1/02E)

21.       United Arab Emirates                    514,750 bbl/d (1/1/02E)

22.            Malaysia                                           514,500 bbl/d (1/1/02E)

23.       South Africa                                      468,547 bbl/d (1/1/02E)

24.            Azerbaijan                                        442,000 bbl/d (1/1/01E)

25.            Nigeria                                              438,750 bbl/d (1/1/03E)


Sources:  Energy Information Administration, US Department of Energy, quoted in


Note:  This data exclude USA.  According with BP (June, 2003), the refinery capacity of this country is of 16,761 thousand barrels a day.











The two projects will make possible the construction of the industrial complex Mariscal de Ayacucho, similar to that of José in the State of Anzoátegui, in which natural gas will be used coming from the off-shore exploitations as a feeding source for a series of producer plants of fertilizers and petrochemical products. 


The energy promise of at least three years ago seems to finally be coming to a close, after a long process of revisions, negotiations and fallbacks.  The development of natural gas reserves, a hydrocarbon that in the fast was considered a nuisance to oil companies of the national industry, has achieved popularity by the way of two large projects that will materialize in the east of the country and just in the construction phase will provide directly and indirectly about 250,000 employment opportunities.  


Of the two plans, the most advanced is the Mariscal Sucre, substitute of the failed Cristóbal Colón in the decade of the 80s, and whose objective is to exploit natural gas reserves that exist in the north of the Paria peninsula and whose nucleus is represented by a liquefaction gas plant whose production will go to its main destination in the east coast of the United States. 


The other, which will be carried out in the Atlantic Ocean, north of the Orinoco Delta, is not only more ambitious, but also more complex, because it means carrying out exploration and exploitation activities of natural gas at the charge of a greater number of companies, and with a large territorial extension, for which the Ministry of Energy and Mines will formulate a national oil policy with oil companies of Venezuela, and will execute the project, for which it needs to direct energy and force into the supervision and coordination among different partners.




Up until now Venezuela holds seventh place among the countries in the world with the biggest reserves of natural gas, after Russia, Iran, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and the United States.  


In the case of Venezuela, the resources of this hydrocarbon -- the associates and non-associates of oil production – add up to approximately 227 billion cubic feet.  From this quantity, 146 billion cubic feet are tested reserves and at the same time 91% of these are subject to the ups and downs of oil production.


Those who have defended the expansion of the natural gas industry in the country have taken into consideration this reality, in other words, the dependency that is currently presented in the production of this resource faced with oil activity.  This, without mentioning the existing deficit in the national market and especially in the east, explains the great necessity to look for deposits with the intention of increasing the tested reserves, attacking the growing markets in the exterior and encouraging the consumption of fuel that is cleaner and cheaper within national territory. 


It is important to mention that the work in Mariscal Sucre as well as in the Deltana platform are only a small part within the universe represented by global financial needs in this sector, requirements calculated to be more or less 100 million dollars, in order to carry forward the business of natural gas through the exploitation of reserves that a nation possesses in its coastal area.


But, it could also be more, pointed out the director of Proyects and Plans of the Direction of Hydrocarbons for the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Luis Vierma, who has calculated that this quantity to be executed in 40 years is still very “conservative”. 




The start of operations in Mariscal Sucre, in Paria, will mean obtaining some 700 million dollars during 25 years.  Approximately 1.5 million dollars will be destined for the purchase of national goods and services. 


This gas liquefaction project is a business in which the national Fisco, Venezuelan Oil, Shell, Mitsubishi and the strategic partner Ejecutivo, hope to obtain more than 14,52 million during the fourth cycle that the contract is supposed to last. 


According to calculations, once operations have begun – in the agenda this is indicated to be in 2007 – the country will obtain approximately 700 million dollars a year, thanks to the exportation of 4. million metric tones to markets on the east coast of the United States and the commercialization of some 300 million cubic feet internally. 


Of the 14.52 million dollars, Venezuela would make 11.03, divided in the following way:  5.24 for PDVSA, 4.44 for taxes and 1.35 for royalty payments. 


The vice minister of Hydrocarbons, Bernardo Álvarez, explained that the selection process of companies that will accompany PDVSA in this initiative, took into account the following conditions with the intention of generating advantages for the State:


a) Vertical integration of the business.   

b) Guarantee of access and valuation of attractive markets. 

c) Participation in re-gasification terminals that already exist. 

d) Assured supply to internal market.

e) More locals and local material in the contracting of goods and services.

f) Application of programs on the formation of human capital and technology transfer.

g) Development of industrial gas complex similar to the already existing José, Anzoátegui state. 

h) Acceptation of legal and fiscal framework in the Republic of Venezuela.


Mariscal Sucre will be born thanks to the construction of a train of liquefaction of natural gas, fed with the reserves (some 10.3 trillion cubic feet of gas) located in the north of the Paria Peninsula, Sucre state.  In this zone 34 wells will be dug distributed in 4 deposits: Río Caribe, Patao, Mejillones and Dragón. During the execution of work, approximately 1.5 million dollars will be destined to the purchase of national goods and services. 


At the end of the first semester of this year the Minister of Energy and Mines (then Álvaro Silva Calderón); the president of Petróleos de Venezuela, Alí Rodríguez Araque; the executive president of Shell Gas and Power, Linda Cook, and the director of Mitsubishi Corpotarion, James Brumm, made the commitment, in the Salón Ayacucho at the Palace in Miraflores, to begin the necessary studies in order to establish the economic reach of the exploitation of natural gas fields not associated with the production of crude located in the north of the Paria Peninsula. 


This process, which was supposed to have finished at the end of June 2003, should be finalized with the subscription of the definitive contract that the parts will take on.  There is time then to clear some questions related to the future of Mariscal Sucre. 


The project in the north of Paria represents an investment of an estimated 2.5  - 3 million dollars.  In the property of the State 60% has been reserved, which will be reduced if Ejecutivo decides to include a new partner, in function of the actions that since months ago the Ministry of the Energy and Mines is carrying out. 


Such a decision will result in a series of important consequences with respect of de-participation of the mentioned initiative.  In the first place, this would not be able to consider itself as the fruit of a state company if the new partner can do it with at least 11% of this portion, which the take the participation of the Venezuelan State to 49%, the appropriate limit for, for example, accessing with greater facility capital markets.  Because as it is well known, in these types of developments it could be that 70% of new money coming from international banks is necessary under the figure of direct loans or the placement of bonds. 




Different from Paria, the Deltana Platform consists of various actors.  But it is also a playing field, since the five areas that were initially identified and total a little more than 6,000 thousand square kilometers, compared with a total of 23,000 square kilometers. 


The framework agreement for the development of existing resources in this region has already been signed by representatives of the companies and consortiums selected by Ejecutivo for three of the five blocks. 


British Gas (BG) goes hand-in-hand with Chevron-Texaco in Block 2 (el Loran). While they are waiting to see who will operate in Blocks 3 and 4 (Lau Lau and Cocuina), they wait for the result of the competitive process between the consortium integrated by the Norwegian state Statoil-Norks Hydro and the French-Belgium TotalFinaElf.


Distinct strategies have been decided for Blocks 1 and 5.  in the first, the Ministry of Energy and Mines has decided to carry out a direct negotiation with the multinational British Petroleum, which maintains operations in natural gas exploitation in deposits that transcend Venezuelan and Trinidadian borders.  In terms of Block 5, Bernardo Álvarez explained that “because of its complexity, which means deep wells, the development modality will be announced in the first trimester of 2003”. 


The managing director of the French-Belgium company, Jean Michel Gires, calculates that for the development of a integrated vertical business – which goes from exploration activities to the commercialization of liquid gas -- it is necessary to invest approximately 4 million dollars. 


Totalfinaelf maintains interest in the country in the three projects in the hydrocarbon sector.  In the strategic association Sincrudos de Oriente (Sincor) in which it has injected 4.2 million dollars and whose goal is to produce 180,000 barrels daily of synthetic oil, it maintains 47% of actions.  This goes hand in hand with Petróleos de Venezuela and the Norwegian state company Statoil.


80 million dollars have been designated to the Jusepín and Cotoperí fields – where right now between 38,000 and 40,000 barrels daily are being produced of light crude and whose capacity will be increased to 45,000 barrels daily in 2003. And in the natural gas field Yucal Placer, with a hoped initial production of 100 million cubic feet for 2003, 69.7% in integrated association with the Spanish Repsol and the Venezuelan Otepi and Inepetrol.


Statoil has offered to invest up to $3 million in the Deltana Platform, contribute 10 million dollars to a oil development fund destined to finance medium and long term projects with the state company, and cooperate with Petróleos de Venezuela in order for it to become “a large offshore operator”, through the technology transfer and the formation of human resources.  


The president of Statoil Venezuela, Marcel Kramer, and the manager of the development of new business in Venezuela, Gilberto Cárdenas, assure that they are ready to start as son as the receive the word from Ejecutivo.


Peter Dramfield, representative of BG, has been optimistic in terms of the high prospective of gas in this area.  Meanwhile, Alirio Moshire, of Chevron-Texaco, commented that the aspiration of this transnational is that the gas in this zone be sold in the United States. 


Sent by: Society of Friends for the defense of Gran Sabana-AMIGRANSA


Source:  PVDSA






Marathon Oil is a company that is in clear process of expansion (in 1997 it occupied 36th place in the world classification of oil companies, and in 2001 it was in 10th place).  With its base in Houston (USA) and its interests in Equatorial Guinea, it has grown notably in the last few years.  At the end of 2001 (officially January 3, 2002) it acquired through 993 million dollars of Guinean shares the company CMS Energy and on the 20th of June, 2002, for another 155 million, the other small company (Globex), in both cases located in the Alba deposits, visible from Malabo, the capital of the country.  In September 2002, the Guinean government approved the expansion of capacity (Phase 2A) of this field, whose work will be finished in the last months of this year.  Another phase, 2B, will be available at the end of 2004.  This has all converted Marathon Oil in one of the most important companies in offshore Guinea. 


At the moment is disposes of 63.33% of Block (Alba), 47% of Block D, 52.4% of a condensing factory, 45% of a methanol factory (Atlantic Methanol Production) and 52.2% of a LPG factory (liquid petroleum gas that comes from refined brute oil; it is formed from 80% propane and 20% butane; this fuel is considered “clean”, and whose utilization, for example, in collective transport in big cities will notably diminish pollution levels).   


The second phase of oil exploration and exploitation in Guinea (the first would be in the colonial period and in the intents of Elf and Hispanoil and GEPSA in the early 80s) began in 1990 with the work of Walter International.  In successive years, United Meridian Corporation obtained concessions without much success.  Both were small North American companies, but in 1995 UMC associated with Mobil Oil.  Up until now, exploitation has centered in the Alba deposit, but in 1995 they also entered into Zafiro (to the west of Bioko Island) and Mobil Oil there produced, in 1997, 40,000 barrels/day.


Besides Mobil Oil, other large and medium companies have invested in the sector. 


Those who presently have an interest in the country are: Marathon Oil, Amerada Hess, Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco, Vanco Energy, Ocean Energy, Energy Africa y Petronas. The first six are American; Energy Africa has its central base in Johannesburg and Petronas (the last to come in) in Malaysia.


Looking at these thirteen years, from many points of view, the development of this sector has had very few repercussions in the rest of the Guinean economy.  The oil sector is still isolated in an environment characterized by misery and the idleness and control of the government.  The 2003 edition of Bilan du Monde, edited in Paris by the group Le Monde, says of Guinea: "At the edge of the black gold, there is no other economic sector of interest to the Guinean authorities”.  Infant mortality is still higher than Sub-Saharan Africa (107,7 of infant deaths in the first year related to infants born and survived). A study done in 1995 shows that 5% of the population (around 20,000 people) controlled 80% of the national wealth.  PNUD estimated in 1996 that 60% of the population (some 240, 000 people) lived in absolute poverty, which implicated levels of income inferior to 365 dollars/year, in other words, less than 500 F CFA daily (125 pesetas).



Oil companies have done nothing but act as allies and accomplices with the Guinean dictatorship. 


The close relations between Mobil Oil and the Guinean government began in 1995.  In this relationship, Pastor Micha, the current Minister of External Relations, played an important part (at that moment he was recently named ambassador in Washington and to the United Nations).  On May 18th, 1995, Micha publicly received instructions from president Obiang to sensitize American economic operators so that they invest in Guinea and so that "friendship and cooperation relations between Washington and Malabo are more strongly ". These relations received a new formulation during the trip made on the 25th of April and the first days of May by and important Guinean delegation made up by Manuel Nguema, uncle of the dictator and known torturer, and Juan Oló, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons and brother of the Guinean first lady, Constancia Mangue. The delegation visited Houston and Washington.


A few months later, after summer, a publicity campaign began to develop in the United States in order to improve the image of the Guinean regime.  Its most relevant benchmark was the publication of one whole page in the New York Times. The preparation of this campaign was led by the lobbying firm Black, Maneforth, Stone & Kelly, who had also edited pamphlets destined at possible American investors in which they tried to give an idyllic image to Equatorial Guinea: a small paradise, free of tribal confrontation and with a stable political regime.  However, between February and August 1995, the leader of the Democratic-Christian Progressive Party, Severo Moto, was jailed in Malabo.  In this period he was tried twice, once by a military tribunal together with a civil group and members of the armed forces, who belonged to his party.  The weakness of the accusation and the lack of guarantees in both processes were evident.  It was only because of international pressure that he was not condemned to death. 


In February 1996 presidential elections were held after a campaign plagued with irregularities.  The official results had Obiang winning 97.85% of the votes.


Together with this early political intervention, which was modified and more discreet than in past years, oil exploitation presented from the beginning three characteristics that, for the moment, it has not lost:


· The benefits do not go beyond the circles closest to the dictator

· Notable secrecy is produced

· Conditions are especially favorable for oil companies.


Profits from oil have been mortgaged, first in the short term and then in the long term, contracts with foreign companies have been renegotiated in order to obtain advances and management of income from hydrocarbons continues to be opaque and without any previous evaluation. 


For Guineans, everything involving oil was, and continues to be, a mystery.  Fernando Abaga tells it like this:  “the first thing that comes to attention is when they want to study oil exploitations and everything that characterizes this activity is clandestine.  The government does not communicate any information such as data regarding production or the income that it generates.”   


Negotiations between the government and oil companies are carried out in a clandestine way.  The contacts that the government has with oil companies, which should be public documents, are not and are not within reach of the public, and stay in the dark: one only knows that the country is an oil exporter, but nothing else. 


In terms of the contracts, there are three conditions that are unfavorable for Equatorial Guinea.  The first is regarding the late entry of a participation system in production, which is planned for the year 2003, and after the amortization of the effected investments of the oil companies.  It is hoped that this participation system will substitute the actual one of royalties, which only ascends 10% of the exportations. 


In second place, the contracts permit a rise in the residual value of the oil inversion of 30% at the end of every year, as well as the postponement of losses registered by companies during their exploration operations.  This includes the costs incurred as a consequence of unsuccessful drilling, and in this way they are recuperated in the productive wells.  In third place, the arbitrary exonerations that the companies are granted in favor of imports. 


In April 1998 the government renegotiated a part of the contracts.  “It is estimated that the conditions obtained are more favorable, since the new conditions permit that the state obtain by way of a “gradual royalty system” income that ascends 12-16% of the value of the exportations, 5% of the capital participation, as well as the introduction of a scaled participation mechanism in production, instead of rates of production.  A 25% utility tax will also be applied".


"It is evident that these new measures will improve conditions for Equatorial Guinea, that income will rise especially through the utility tax and the participation in production.  However, it is still unfavorable if it is compared with the rest of the countries in the region whose utility taxes are between 48.7 and 50%. 


Production in this sector passed 17,000 barrels/day at the end of 1996 to 83,000 in 1998 and 120,00 in 1999. In the period 1999- 2000 concessions were obtained, or exploitations of new fields began by the companies Triton, Energy Africa, CMS and Vanco Energy. At the beginning of 2000 the Guinean authorities finalized their relation with the lobby company Black, Maneforth, Stone & Kelly (which was called Black, Kelly, Scruggs & Healey) and signed a new contract with Africa Global Partners.


In its relations with the American administration it is noteworthy to take into account the annual publication, by the State Department, of very critical reports regarding the situation of human rights in Equatorial Guinea.  In March 2001 the Guinean dictator made a “private visit” to the United States in order to, without a doubt, improve the image of his regime in this country.   


In June 2001 a report was published entitled “Equatorial Guinea: A Country Profile for US Businesses” in which it defines Guinea as “the most important destination for American investments in the African Sub-Sahara after Nigeria, Angola and South Africa.”  Chevron Texaco, Exxon- Mobil, Triton Energy, Vanco, Ocean Energy, Oceaneering International and Africa Global Partners financed the report. The methanol factory project built on Bioko Island by Atlantic Methanol Production (now belonging to Marathon Oil) received all shorts of support from distinct American instances: 173 million dollars from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), "one of the highest loans conceded by this support entity to American investments overseas”; another 200 million as a guarantee of “political risk” and finally, it received the consideration of “ecological installation” granted by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) of the United States to companies that reduce environmental contamination.   


On the 8th and 9th of June, 2001, Reuters and the Financial Times printed declarations that were made the day before by Obiang in Bata indicating that the oil company contracts “were not satisfactory” and that “they are not positive for the country and should be modified”.  The dictator announced the creation of a national oil company (then, Petroguinea, now GEpetrol) that would be in charge of “increasing the percentage in the royalties, the percentage in the participation in crude, and…the percentage in the participation in shares ".


Although he did not explain how these negotiations would proceed, he did say that his intention was to increase the participation of the Guinean state to 50 or 51% of shares, in other words that the State would be the owner of the companies. 


Up until the date, it seems that the contracts with American companies have not been modified, [and the participation of the Guinea in the production in the exploited deposits is very reduced: 3% in the Alba deposit (Marathon Oil); 5% in the Zafiro deposit (Exxon-Mobil) and 5% in Ceiba (Amerada Hess)], however, the contract with the Malaysian company Petronas, signed February 2002, recognizes that GEpetrol receive 15% of royalties.


GEpetrol was legally created in February 2001, but did not start working until 2002 


Source:  REBELION, SPAIN 110603 - Asodegue






Singapore is the third largest refining center in the world. Its total refining capacity is 1.2 million barrels per day. The development of the petrochemical industry in Singapore is a natural progression given Singapore's strong base in petroleum refining, which provides feedstock such as naphtha for the petrochemical industry.


Petroleum and petrochemicals were another base of Singapore's industrial and economic life. In the late 1980s, Singapore was the world's third largest oil-trading center and also the third largest center for petroleum refining. It was the second largest builder of drilling rigs, and its facilities for repairing and maintaining rigs and tankers were the most competitive in East Asia.


When oil prices began eroding in 1981 and collapsing toward the end of 1985, Singapore felt both negative and positive consequences. The collapse of oil prices dealt a severe blow to oil exploration. The impact was felt widely and immediately in everything from reduced orders for rig construction to lowered occupancy of luxury apartments as foreign petroleum workers returned home. With both of its immediate neighbors, Indonesia and Malaysia, heavily dependent on oil and gas exports for revenue, Singapore had a resulting loss of trade in both goods and services.


Singapore benefited, however, from the availability of cheaper energy, which in 1986 amounted to a savings of about S$2.5 billion (US$1.12 billion). Furthermore, Singaporean refineries invested in the equipment and technology necessary to enable them to refine a wide variety of crude oils and obtain a greater proportion of high valued products from the refining process. Petroleum refining alone made up 28 percent of Singapore's manufacturing output in 1985, although by 1988 it had dropped by half as a result of a decline in petroleum production and growth in other industries. Singapore also benefited indirectly when large oil importers such as Japan and the United States obtained higher real incomes from lower oil prices, enabling them to increase their imports from Singapore and other countries.


The petroleum, petrochemical and chemical industries are experiencing rapid growth in Asia. Singapore aims to create a competitive environment on Jurong Island to house these industries


The Jurong Island amalgamation project is one of the key initiatives under the program M2000 to develop a world-class chemical industry cluster. The Jurong Island project is implemented based on a total approach to industry development.


The Jurong Island project will amalgamate a group of seven small islands off the southwestern coast of Singapore into a single island. The island would house the petroleum and petrochemical industries by reclaiming the channels between them and extending into additional sea space. The seven southern islands are Pulau Merlimau, Pulau Ayer Chawan, Pulau Ayer Merbau, Pulau Seraya, Pulau Sakra, Pulau Pesek and Pulau Pesek Kecil. With an existing land area totaling a little less than 1,000 hectares, the intention is to create an additional 1,790 hectares of land through reclamation. This will form a land mass of about 2,790 hectares which will be available for industries.


In the 1960s, this group of seven small islands had been identified as the ideal location for heavy industries. It became home to several large oil refineries including Esso, Mobil and Singapore Refining Company (a joint venture between Caltex, BP and Singapore Petroleum Company), located on Pulau Ayer Chawan, Pulau Pesek and Pulau Merlimau respectively. In 1984, the first petrochemical complex in Singapore was established on Pulau Ayer Merbau. Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore, a joint venture between Shell and a Japanese consortium led by Sumitomo Chemical, operates the cracker in this complex. The downstream players in the complex include The Polyolefin Company, Phillips Petroleum, Ethylene Glycols Singapore, Denka, and Kureha Chemicals.


With these pioneers in place, it became logical that the surrounding islands, when amalgamated, would be suitable for the development of a petroleum and petrochemical hub. The physical clustering of related chemical industries provides strong opportunities for industry integration and other benefits arising from economies of scale.


In 1991, the government approved the amalgamation plan at an estimated total direct development cost of S$7 billion. This was a direct response to the identification of the chemical industry as a key growth sector, contributing significantly to the Singapore economy. The idea was to reclaim the land in phases to keep pace and to meet the projected demand of the industry. The original schedule for the final phase of the reclamation was year 2030. However, with increasing demand from these industries over the past two years, the reclamation has progressed ahead of schedule. The completion of Jurong Island is now targeted for the year 2003


Singapore is well positioned to play a key role in the growth of Asia-Pacific's petrochemical industry with an integrated hub on Jurong Island. Many multinational companies are already enjoying the benefits of locating on Jurong Island. Companies that have recently announced their intention to locate on Jurong Island include a Sumitomo led consortium (acrylics complex), Eastman Chemical (oxo-alcohols), Chevron (lube additives), Asahi (polyacetal resins), Poval Asia (polyvinyl alcohol), Denka (acetylene black, polystyrene) and Lonza (purified isophthalic acid).








The SAPREF refinery, located on the coast of South Africa south of Durban, began its operations in the 1960s. Today, it is the largest crude oil refinery in South Africa, capable of processing over 185,000 barrels a day, and employing a total of 1,150 staff and contract workers. In addition to the refinery proper, there are also seven pipelines radiating out from the refinery in various directions. The Island View tank terminal, north of the refinery at Durban Harbor, is directly connected to the refinery via pipelines, and includes a number of big aboveground storage tanks as well as its own internal network of pipelines. Island View is also a servicing terminal for merchant ships which use SAPREF bunker fuel. For most of its history the SAPREF refinery and associated facilities have pretty much operated on their own, without stringent government oversight. Apartheid-era laws gave many South African companies a free hand, with little environmental accountability. Since the 1960s, there have undoubtedly been spills and accidents at these facilities, but few have been publicly documented. In the 1990s, however, some refinery accidents and pollution have been documented.


In May 1998, an explosion and fire occurred at the refinery due to a failure at the alkylation unit. The explosion was heard several kilometers away and the fire was fought for more than six hours. No injuries were reported at the time, but an estimated five tons of hydrogen fluoride (HF), a highly dangerous substance, were released. HF is used as a catalyst in the alkylation’s process, but it is highly reactive and dangerous as hydrofluoric acid. Acute exposure through inhalation causes extreme irritation of the respiratory tract that can be fatal. Ingestion causes tissue death in the esophagus and stomach and results in burning pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, circulatory collapse, and death. Skin contact with the liquid or vapor causes severe burns, and contact with the eyes results in permanent eye damage or blindness. The HF released at the SAPREF refinery in May 1998 was in the form of gas. The refinery has also been a chronic polluter. In fact, by February 2000, SAPREF management admitted it had underreported sulfur dioxide emissions to the local government for the last five years by as much as 12 tons a day – or 4,380 tons or 10 million pounds a year. By September 2000, the refinery claimed to have cut its SO-2 pollution by 30 percent, down to 37 tons a day. Flares have also been frequent at the refinery, as there is no back-up power source, leading to the use of flares as a safety valve in shut downs and power failures.


SAPREF has acknowledged its emissions may affect public health. “Under certain weather and operating conditions, and when combined with other pollution sources in the valley (including vehicles), we acknowledge that our SO-2 emissions could contribute to the overall impact on people with respiratory ailments.” SAPREF also acknowledged that its SO-2 emissions have exceeded World Health Standards.


“Evidence suggests that we are a contributor to those surplus,” said SAPREF officials in September 2000, “but we are committed to reducing excess to the point where they cease altogether.” But in the year 2000 certainly, that hadn’t occurred. In early January 2001, a fire broke out in the refinery’s bitumen blending area. The same day 6,000 liters of a chemical solvent spilled from a faulty valve in a SAPREF tanker truck. Later in January 2001, another fire broke out at refinery’s No. 2 Crude Distillation Unit. The same day, about 1,000 liters of bunker fuel spilled into Durban Bay.




Then, in March 2001, at the Island View tank terminal on Durban Harbor, a SAPREF storage tank leaked 25 tons of tetra-ethyl lead (TEL), a highly toxic substance and a known carcinogen. A rupture occurred in the tank while the lead was being pumped from a ship into a SAPREF tank at the terminal. SAPREF buys the lead from Associated Octel. The leak, however, was not discovered by SAPREF or Octel, but by other industrial workers from Engen, and then it was about eight hours after the leak had started. Once discovered, some of the lead was pumped back into the ship. Following the tank leak, a number of workers in the area were evacuated and tested for lead in their blood. Although one worker on the ship was diagnosed with elevated lead levels, none of the neighboring residents were evacuated or tested. The depots nearby residents were kept in the dark about the leak for about three days. From March 21-24, two local roads near the terminal were closed, and residents say they were never told why.


Yet SAPREF and others at the depot were obligated to do so under the National Environmental Management Act. About 300 meters away from the storage tank failure is the residential area of Flynnlands in the area of south Durban known as the Bluff. Rory O’Connor of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance said that health tests should be done on nearby residents, and that some of the storage tanks at the terminal were decades old and needed independent inspections. “. . . At least the firms should tell us what they have in those tanks and what should happen in an emergency,” said local resident Willem van Loggerenberg.


Lead has been stored at the terminal since 1968. Lead, a highly toxic substance, is not naturally found in the human body. In children, lead is particularly insidious, poisoning the developing brain in very small quantities. With moderate long-term exposures but no immediate symptoms, children show reduced short term memory, delayed reaction time, reduced ability to concentrate, and diminished IQ scores. For adults too, exposure to lead can damage the peripheral nervous system, affecting memory, vision, and muscle coordination and can also weaken wrists and ankles. Absorption at high levels can damage kidneys, result in anemia and miscarriage, and decrease fertility in both men and women. Chronic low level exposures may be associated with hypertension, blood pressure problems and heart disease. In the US, occupational and safety regulations requires that workers with blood levels of 50 micrograms per deciliter be removed from the exposure. In soil, lead occurs naturally in background levels between 25 and 60 ppm.


In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency sets 400 ppm as the maximum acceptable level in soil, beyond which actions are often taken to remove the contamination.


At the Island View terminal, a number of the tanks used to store the lead were more than 20 years old. In fact, an independent engineering consultant, Project Development Africa, that conducted a follow- up investigation of the SAPREF tank, indicated it failed because of severely rusted welding joints. SAPREF claims the tank had been routinely tested and, only two years earlier, had “no apparent indication of rust.” However, it turns out that the measurement technique SAPREF was using wasn’t the most accurate, as three other tanks which had been demolished in 1998 had also shown signs of severe, unexpected internal rusting. That’s when SAPREF sought the advice of Shell Global Solutions in the Netherlands, which reported back to SAPREF that the technique it was then using was inadequate to measure localized rust. A technique used at nuclear facilities to detect rust – known as TOFD, and used in the UK since the 1970s – should have been used by SAPREF, but wasn’t, despite the advice from Shell Global Solutions. The older method was also cheaper. The consultant concluded that SAPREF and the tank operating company, Associated Octel, “appear to have allowed themselves to be deluded” by the older testing method. But there was also evidence, according to the consultant, that other anti-rust and anti-pollution measures “may not have been fully effective and properly managed by SAPREF” at the Island View terminal.




A few months after the lead leak, another SAPREF leak was discovered in early July 2001. This time, an underground pipeline supplying a petroleum fuel known as Mogas had leaked, releasing what was first thought to be about 750,000 liters of fuel into the ground. The leak – later found to be much larger, just over 1,000,000 liters14 – occurred silently and out of sight, seeping out of a 4mm hole in the line into the ground below. The fuel soaked into the ground beneath two residential areas of south Durban, Wentworth and the Bluff, with some of the material reaching groundwater below. For days following the spill – which was first detected by the local residents, not SAPREF – hydrocarbon fumes permeated the area. Families living near the corner of Tara and Angelier roads were the first to lodge complaints. SAPREF then shut the line down to reduce the risk of fire or explosion. Three days following the leak, air samples collected by Ecoserv showed very high levels of hydrocarbons, with readings next to one storm drain at 3,700 parts per million (ppm). More than a month later, benzene levels in the air were being found at 0.2 ppm inside certain houses, a level that is several times higher than World Health Organization (WHO) outdoor limits.


Several families were evacuated as other families began considering legal action.


Soon after this leak, other SAPREF pipelines were tested and found to be leaking or corroded as well.  There are at least seven SAPREF pipelines running between the refinery and the Harbor View terminal, most with no above-ground markers, and some which run adjacent to residential areas and right next to some homes. Shell and BP say they have tested and repaired their structurally weak pipelines, most as recently as 1998. Yet in the last few years there have been several pipeline leaks. Some residents and activists, including Bobby Peek, proposed that Shell and BP replace their pipelines with new ones. “We know the pipelines are about 30 years old and should all be replaced,” said Peek. “The pipelines are laid in an area that was originally the south Durban wetland, which means corrosion will always be a problem.” 


The companies say replacement of their lines is not necessary.


Instead, Shell and BP recommend that more tests be done on the lines, and that residents be relocated. But at least one government official, Minister Moosa of Environmental Affairs, stated that people in the communities of south Durban would not be relocated.


The July 2001 pipeline leak, reaching groundwater, was serious enough that SAPREF had to sink a series of 368 extraction wells to try to clean up the leaked fuel. SAPREF estimated they recovered 25 percent of the spill by October 2001. Still, at that time, SAPREF was planning to sink another 220 extraction wells in the area to continue the clean up. On the matter of the hydrocarbon fumes in residential areas, SAPREF reported the following in October 2001:


. . . 24-hour air quality monitoring, by an independent company, in these homes has shown some peak levels of benzene (a known carcinogen) on occasion in some homes. . . . Although these peaks were in excess of lifetime exposure for European Union and World Health Organization residential standards, they did not constitute a health risk in the short term. SAPREF also showed the result to two medical experts, one local and the other from overseas. Their advice was that it would be better for these residents to relocated temporarily as a precaution to be quite sure that there will be no risk to health in the longer term.


Still, SAPREF had acknowledged they would not be able to entirely

clean up the spill, as some of the spilled material would bind to soil and vapors would continue to escape into the surrounding air.


Within the community, some residents experiencing immediate health effects from the leaked fumes, such as coughing, burning eyes, headache, dizziness, and nausea, began to wonder about longer-term health effects as well. What about other leaks that may have occurred over the years, and the continuing assault of regular fumes from the refinery? There were some rare immune diseases in the community as well as a number of asthmatics. One 15-year-old girl in 1997 had died of lupus erythematosus, a rare autoimmune disease, and another 13- year-old girl also had the disease. A three-year-old in the community had also died of kidney cancer in 1994.


Meanwhile, back at the refinery, there had also been other incidents. In June 2001, a failure of a refinery flare resulted in the release of unburnt gases, including substantial amounts of hydrogen sulfide. In mid-August 2001, the asphalt plant at the refinery failed.


On September 3rd, 2001, a marine fuel oil pipeline leaked. About ten days later, there was another flare failure. On October 14th, 2001, an estimated 2,000 liters of bunker fuel spilled into Durban Harbor during a SAPREF ship refueling operation at the Island View terminal.


One evening in early October 2001, local residents gathered at the Dirkie Uys Primary School to discuss their predicament, raising both the short-term and longer term health issues. Scharlotte van Staden, who had been advised by SAPREF to abandon her home temporarily because of the leak, asked the help of the government “to protect us from the polluting industries immediately.” She said the poor environmental practices of the SAPREF refinery would not be tolerated elsewhere. “But the third world is different,” said Desmond D’Sa, a south Durban community leader. “Our lives are cheap.”  D’Sa,

in fact, had checked out Shell’s operations in Europe. “I went to a Shell refinery in Denmark and there was no smell at all. And when we looked at the data we found that there was 85 percent less pollution from the refineries in Denmark than here.”


A few local government leaders soon got the message and began to move on SAPREF. Provincial Environment Minister Narend Singh issued a directive to the refinery in early October charging that SAPREF had failed in its duty to care for the environment. Singh listed the pipeline and tank leaks and hydrogen sulfide pollution. He called for a detailed clean-up plan from the refinery or face legal action under the National Environmental Management Act. SAPREF manager Richard Parkes, soon held a meeting with senior officials in Singh’s office and agreed to speed up the refinery’s actions in order to avoid criminal prosecution. However, some political leaders, including councilor George Mari, hearing from residents in the south Bluff and Wentworth communities, wanted an investigation of the health effects in the area as well as an evaluation of the effect of spills and pollution on community property values. Others, like councilor Duncan duBois at the Unicity council meeting in late October 2001, sounded a more angry tone:

“We are dealing with the world’s largest oil company, tip-toeing around what is a major human and ecological disaster that must be condemned in the strongest terms.”


Indeed, even Lloyd’s of London, in its December 2001 Lloyd’s List International, was citing “South Africa’s decaying refineries,” singling out the SAPREF refinery for its “third leak in five months – this time from a 38-year old marine fuel oil pipeline.”


Yet SAPREF has continued to evidence problems throughout its system. On December 30, 2001, about 15,000 liters of oil spilled from a SAPREF line into Durban Harbor during the refueling of a ship. A March 2002 break in an underground pipeline inside the Island View terminal caused another 3,000 liters of oil to leak. In April 2002,

SAPREF fuel lines being pressure tested at the Island View terminal revealed another corroded pipeline.27 During August 2002, there were SO-2 and SO-3 releases from the refinery, some due to extra flaring and a power failure. By mid-September 2002, SAPREF had pumped out of the ground about 1.03 million liters of its year-old pipeline spill on the Bluff, but some still lingered in soil and groundwater. Refinery manager Richard Parkes promised to do more. “Today we cannot turn the clock back or downplay the country’s biggest-ever petrol leak,” he said, “but we are committed to putting right what went wrong more than a year ago. We pride ourselves on running a safe, reliable refinery. We feel a deep sense of regret and we are focused on cleaning up.”


Taken from:  Riding the Dragon

Chapter One:  Two Different Worlds.  Bobby Peek lives in Durban, South Africa; Phill Watts in London UK.









DESPATCHLINE: Amaokwe Village In Isuikwuato Local

Government Area Of Abia State

FROM: Patrick B. Naagbanton & Murphy Akiri

DATE: June 25, 2003



- Over 200 Persons Roasted Beyond Recognition

- Death Toll Rises

- More NNPC Pipelines still leaking in the area

- Fear Of another possible fire outbreak mounts



The tragic pipeline explosion which resulted into fire and roasted about 200 villagers on Thursday, June 19, 2003 at about 8.30 p.m. occurred at Amaokwe community in the Isuikwuato Local Government Area of Abia State from NNPC/Pipeline PE-IG-109, kilometer 126. The pipelines, which run through the community, are used by NNPC to convey refined petroleum products from Port Harcourt refinery via Enugu to some Depots in Northern Nigeria. Wilbros Nigeria Limited laid the NNPC/PPMC pipelines in 1976, while Spibat laid others in 1992.




ERA's Field Monitor investigation reveals that in the early hours of

Wednesday, June 4, 2003, a minor rupture occurred on the NNPC pipeline PE-IG-109 and oozing out petroleum products such as kerosene, fuel, and diesel into the nearby farmlands, river and surrounding forests.


Mr. Innocent Ugoagha, who is the head of Ugoagha family in Amaokwe community, informed ERA that as soon as the incident occurred he wrote a letter entitled, Oil spillage at Oghuighe NNPC pipeline, to the Caretaker Chairman of the Isuikwuato Local Government Council, Abia State. The letter, which was dated June 4, 2003, was copied to The Executive Governor of Abia State, Dr. Uzor Kalu and received on June 15th 2003.


On June 9, 2003, the same leader, Innocent, frustrated that nothing happened to their earlier complains to the local and state government, wrote another letter to the Operation Controller, Department of Petroleum Resources (D.P.R.) and NNPC in Port Harcourt. The letter, which was entitled: The Degradation of my family farmland Due to Oil Spillage at Oghuighe NNPC pipeline was also widely circulated to government officials, who were supposed to respond swiftly and plug the ruptured pipelines.


An official of the government of Abia State and staff of the office of the

Controller of D.P.R. in Port Harcourt in separate interviews confirmed to ERA monitor that they received letters complaining about the earlier leakage from the pipeline. ERA is in possession of the letters written by the community people and dully received and with official stamps (acknowledging receipt), by the concerned authorities.


At the NNPC Zonal Office, in Port Harcourt, officials who spoke to ERA also confirmed receiving the letters, but regretted not acting on time.




For some days, villagers and visitors had been trooping to the site of the leaking pipeline to scoop the free-flowing fuel. The story was different on Thursday, June 19, 2003 when villagers from neighboring communities rushed with plastic containers of different sizes.


Local people told ERA that the explosion occurred when a motorcyclist attempted to start his motorbike parked around the scene of the ruptured pipeline. It was gathered from community people that the spark from the motorcyclist's bike ignited a huge fire, which eventually burnt down the entire area and the villagers who were scooping the petroleum products.


When ERA Field Monitors visited the scene of the incident, the corpses have already been buried in shallow graves. The mass burial exercise was undertaken by local heath officials and officials of the Red Cross Society of Nigeria.




On Saturday, June 21, 2003, NNPC fire service visited the community, when a heavy rainfall had already doused the inferno. On that same day, Dr. Chima Nwafor, the Deputy Governor of Abia State also visited the community.


Also, on Tuesday, June 24, 2003, Dr. Uzor Kalu, the Executive Governor of Abia State visited the scene of the incident. ERA field monitor was on hand when the Governor got to the scene of the incident. Governor Kalu declared at the scene, "This is not a disaster. This is a case of a people trying to cheat government. It is unfortunate that human beings are involved. The President (Obasanjo) is angry. It is unfortunate that poverty has made our people like this. I have warned traditional rulers in the area to guard against this. But you can't blame the hungry people. May the souls of the dead rest in peace".


Although the action of those scooping petrol from ruptured pipelines is condemnable however in a land where sources of livelihoods have been destroyed, widespread poverty and neglect the temptation to fetch fuel may be totally inevitable to make ends meet. The situation is compounded by the failure of NNPC to plug the pipeline on time, 10 days after receiving letters alerting them of the spill.


The criminalisation of a people over the years remains a ready excuse to shy away from responsibilities under the guise of sabotage.




As at the time of filling this report, ERA field monitors found two separate leakages in Ine and Ogboko communities all in Amachara, in the Isuikwuato Local Government Area of Abia State. Something needs to be done to avert an Amaokwe-type calamity. Clearly the NNPC/DPR have failed in their responsibility to monitor oil pipelines.


Sources: ERA FIELD REPORT #119








Natural gas release contained at Lawe-lawe terminal on East Kalimantan, Indonesia


Balikpapan, 6 May 2003 - Unocal Indonesia Company announced today that it has resumed normal operations following a temporary gas release that occurred at Lawe-Lawe Terminal near Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, at 20:00 hrs on the evening of May 5. The incident was quickly contained. The company has formed an investigation team to determine the cause of the release and is taking remedial actions to deal with the impact of the incident.


The incident has been reported to the Executive Agency for Upstream Oil and Gas Business Activities (BPMIGAS), the Regional Environmental Impact Management Agency (Bapedalda), and the local security officials involved in handling the situation.


Shortly after the gas release, several people in Girimukti village, Penajam Paser Utara regency, near the Lawe-lawe Oil and Gas terminal in the operational area of Unocal Indonesia Company complained of health problems including dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath caused by inhaling the petroleum gas vapors.


Unocal's medical team provided immediate medical care to the local residents who experienced these health problems. A total of 28 people were treated and all but one was subsequently released. One person was kept for observation in a Balikpapan hospital as a precaution. Conditions in the local area were back to normal by 23:00 hours on May 5, with no trace of gas evident and no environmental damage.


Unocal Indonesia Company has apologized to the public, and particularly to the local community of Girimukti village, for this unfortunate incident, and is working together with local community leaders to mitigate the impact of this unexpected event.


Sources: JATAM (Jaringan Advokasi Tambang).  Mining Advocacy Network. E-mail:





In the majority of countries, especially in developed countries, refineries or high-risk industries are normally always strategically located in areas where large populations of immigrants live or where the poorest social stratum lives.  In the case of the USA, this is normally in black or Latin neighborhoods. 


The argument is that the poor are the ones that choose to live in these areas.  They are unfamiliar with the structural mechanisms that work in order to invade land of traditional occupants in order for the colonization of the poor close to the new installations. 


Esmeraldas is an area of important oil activity.  It is here that the Esmeraldas refinery is found, the terminal for finished products, the gas terminal, the terminal for the TransEcuadorian pipeline, the Balao oil terminal and the head of the Esmeraldas-Quito-Ambato polyduct. 


The traditional population mainly Afroecuadorean, are traditionally farmers and gatherers. 


The most densely populated counties are those that the oil duct crosses and the city of Esmeraldas.  The construction of the Balao terminal displaced fishermen and women that live along the beach.  They in turn have displaced populations who live along the river.  This terminal has produced severe contamination impacts in the sea. 


On February 26, 1998, a fire broke out in the Esmeraldas Refinery.  Petroecuador, the state company that operates the refinery, proceeded to pay indemnifications, which varied depending on the demands.  These were disproportional.  For example, a banana company received the same as 10 people who lost relatives.  In this case, private property was more valued those human lives. 




At the root of the fire, the Improvement Committee of the Delfina Torres Viuda de Concha neighborhood (La Propicia 1) where the refinery is located, presented a demand for permanent and accidental damages historically provoked by the Esmeraldas refinery.  


This demand including repairing damages caused by the presence of the refinery, compensations for these damages and getting rid of the sources of contamination. 


The Committee argues that they are in the area of influence of the refinery and having been affected by spills and accidents before and after February 26, 1998.  The Committee represents 250 families that live in La Propicia and also represents all Esmeraldeñas who have suffered and who suffer from the impacts of the refinery. 


They suffer from the permanent contamination of the refinery that discharges its’ waste into Teaone and Esmeraldas.  There is also contamination from the emission of routine and accidental gases. 


The demand for damage, including moral damage, is for 35 million dollars.  These funds will be used for infrastructure such as sewage systems, water treatment, river contention, and to cover health and improvement of the neighborhood. 


They also demand that the necessary measures be verified for the cancellation of sources of contamination. 


The demanders have proved the environmental and social impacts and those that come from the fire, based on expert professionals, with public documents and press testimonies. 


Petroecuador took all actions necessary in order to minimize the impacts of the fire.   


At the end of 2002, the population of “La Propicia“ won the trial against Petroecuador.


Source:  Alerta Verde. Acción Ecológica Bulletin.  

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