by Thomas Catenacci
A South American energy company was forced to halt operations of a pipeline traveling through the Amazon rainforest after a rupture caused a large leak of crude oil, multiple sources reported.
OCP Ecuador, which generates about $133 million in annual revenue transporting oil in the region, had immediately started a clean up and mitigation effort when the leak was discovered, the company said in a statement Saturday. The rupture was likely caused by a rock fall in the area which damaged the pipeline infrastructure, NBC News reported.
Roberto Grijalva, OCP Ecuador’s Operations Manager, said the company was committed to taking all measures necessary to prevent further damage to the environment. The Ecuadorian government, meanwhile, added that it was closely monitoring the rupture.
On Friday, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, a group representing local indigenous groups, posted a video showing large amounts of oil spewing out of the ruptured pipeline and contaminating the nearby vegetation.
“This is the exact reason why we oppose oil extraction,” Andres Tapia, of CONAIE’s parent company, told NBC News.
“Spills have become a part of our daily life, and we live with the contamination for decades,” he said. “The oil industry has only brought us death and destruction … We are calling on the government to halt oil expansion plans and properly clean up this spill and all the others that continue to contaminate our territories and violate our rights..”
Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso, who took office in May 2021, has vowed to double the country’s oil output, saying it was important for the economy, according to S&P Global. Lasso has also moved to incentivize greater private investment in the nation’s hydrocarbons industry.
Kevin Koenig, the energy and climate director at the environmental group Amazon Watch, slammed Ecuador’s government for pushing more oil extraction in the Amazon despite the common leaks, NBC News reported. He said the nation’s pipeline infrastructure is “built to spill.”
“Despite promises to use state of the art technology and alleged commitments to environmental responsibility, Ecuador is averaging two oil spills per week,” Koenig said, according to NBC News. “Government plans to double production and expand extraction deeper into the Amazon will only lead to more of the same.”
Ecuador has experienced declining oil exports since 2015, according to analytics firm CEIC Data. Oil, though, is responsible for nearly 60% of the country’s total exports.
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Thomas Catenacci is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Amazon Rainforest” by Jlwad. CC BY-SA 4.0.