tions wil l be grounds for dismiss al. "Conoco's activities have an im pact on the environment in which i t operates - on the land, air, water, and the life forms found there. We wil l conduct all oper ations in a lawful and environ mentally responsible manner. Specifically, Conoco will : (1) Comply fully with all perti nent environmental laws and regulations". In a letter to Friends of the Earth, in March 1989, they gave further assurances about their work in the Yasuni National Park:
"...To date, we have drilled seven wells, and each drill site covers no more than four acres. Equipment, materials and personnel for drill ing have been airlifted by heli copter so no roads have been built into the drill sites...we have is sued mandates to our employees and contractors not to hunt wil dlife or disturb the flora and fauna of the Park...If the oil is to be pro duced, the construction of an ac cess road would be necessary and would constitute the primary potential impact on the rainforest. This would come from the oil operations as much as from potential agricultural coloniza tion and logging operations by local people who typically move in i f unregulated...". 6
At present, the Ecuadorian government is breaking its own laws, and Conoco is ap parently only too happy to follow suit.
Exploration in National Parks
A key policy element for any environmen tally responsible oil company must be to
refuse contracts which involve explora tion in national parks. Conoco have not only refused to leave the Park, but have re fused to take the second most preferable option, that of constructing the pipeline by air. Conoco admit that this is feasible, but reject it as too costly. James Nations, of the Centre for Human Ecology at the US Em bassy in Guatemala, claims that:
"A t a Yasuni Park planning work shop held in Quito during May, 1988, conservationists pointed out that when ecological and so cial costs are included in the oil companies calculations — rather than externalised as at present — a pipeline built by air would be cheaper than a pipeline built by road through the Yasuni National Park. While the Yasuni area is ex pected to produce petroleum for only 20 years, the park could last forever ... in the long term, in come generated by tourism and germ plasm protection in the Yasuni National Park would be worth more to Ecuador than 20 years of oil production".17
Conoco officials say that the possi bilities of not building the road are "slim-
18 to-none". They claim that CEPE is responsible for the project, and as a service company, they only work for CEPE. But as Nations points out, "ultimately, i t makes little difference how much money they spend on the Yasuni pipeline, be cause CEPE wil l reimburse the company's investment. CEPE in turn could use the
World Bank loan to cover these costs". Nations suggests that the World Bank should request that the pipeline be built by air, citing "the World Bank's new, policies on the protection of wildlands and biologi cal diversity", as the reason why they should do so. In fact, i f the World Bank stuck to its environmental policies, i t
would not give the loan to CEPE in the first place. The $800,000 being offered by the World Bank for conservation measures, is merely a gesture and is small recompense for the harm which wil l be caused by the larger loan.
Oil and Gas in the Brazilian Amazon
Exploration for oil and gas in the Brazil ian Amazon has increased sharply over the last few years and the exploitation of fos sil fuel reserves now threatens to open up even the most remote areas of the rain forest. There is no reason to believe that the effects of oil industry infrastructure de velopment in previously remote regions wil l be any less destructive than those al ready seen elsewhere in the east.
Both Brazilian and foreign TNCs, in cluding Petrobras, Elf, Pecten (Shell US), BP and Idemitsu, have been involved in oil and gas exploration in the western Ama zon since the late 1970s. The first major infrastructure project was not announced until 1983, when Brazil declared its inten tion to build a $5 billion, 3,000 km, pi peline right across the Amazon from Caraurai in the northwest to Sao Paulo. The start of the pipeline is currently only accessible by boat or by air.
In January 1983, discussions started about the possibility of building another 3,000 km pipeline from the Jurua gasfield
in western Amazonas to Sao Paulo. Pe trobras had been drilling in Jurua for sev eral years and estimated the gasfield to be some 300 miles long and 40 miles wide.
Limiting the Transnationals
During 1987, Brazil tried to stop foreign
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The Ecologist, Vol. 19, No. 6, November/December 1989