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Oil and Natural Gas in Conflict South and Central America


Articles and Documents

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Could Oil Exploration of the Falklands Lead to a Renewal of Hostilities? (February 23, 2010)

The British company Desire Petroleum has started drilling for oil in waters claimed by both Britain and Argentina, 100 miles north of the Falkland Islands. Desire Petroleum's actions have reignited tension between Britain and Argentina, with Argentinean Foreign Minister Jorge Taiona set to meet with UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon to demand international action. Geographical surveys have determined that the Falkland Islands are rich in natural gas reserves, while the headline estimate for oil is huge. (The Independent)


Chevron's Lobbying Campaign Backfires (November 16, 2009)

Texaco -which was purchased by Chevron in 2001 - is accused of having dumped billions of gallons of toxic waste in Ecuador's Amazon rain forest from 1964 to 1990, leaving behind an environmental and public health disaster. Facing a potential $27 billion pollution judgment in Ecuador, Chevron has been carrying an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign to prevent the ruling, casting itself as the victim of a corrupt Ecuadorian political system. But because of Chevron's shady tactics - from secretly taped videos to pseudo-news report - the campaign has often backfired. (Politico)

After 16 years, Ecuador Oil Pollution Case Only Grows Murkier (October 13, 2009)

A 1993 lawsuit against Chevron claims that Texaco ( now merged into Chevron) dumped more than 19 billion gallons of toxic wastewaters into the Ecuadorian rivers and was responsible for  spilling 16.8 million gallons of crude oil into the forest. An independent environmental expert told the court Chevron should pay Ecuador between $7 and $16 in damages.  Chevron fought the litigation and the case was sent to Ecuador to be re- filed. Sixteen years later the case continues.The court struggles to sort through claims of espionage, bribery, and manipulation of evidence. Nonetheless one fact is clear: the pollution and degradation of the Ecuadorian landscape. (The New York Times)


Oil Fuels Suriname-Guyana Border Clash (July 5, 2005)

Once a "relatively worthless realm of farmers and poor fisherman," the contested region between Guyana and Suriname has fallen victim to a complex legal battle over oil. These neighboring South American countries now "share a host of social problems intensified by the risks and promises of oil wealth and by the avaricious focus of international corporations jockeying for control," says CorpWatch. Regardless of who gets drilling rights, "oil has seldom benefited the local population," and the unwillingness to compromise - along with delays over court rulings - will stunt the countries' growth and development.



Bolivia's Referendum About More Than Gas (August 30, 2004)

This article points to the tensions underlying a July referendum endorsing the development of Bolivia's gas reserves. At play are issues of "democracy, race, regionalism, and free-market reforms." The majority Indian population has doubts that they will see the benefits of development, especially after the free-market policies of the 1990s. Bolivia faces the challenge of creating "workable laws, acceptable both to domestic constituencies and foreign investors." (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Colombia's Oil Pipeline Is Paid for in Blood and Dollars (August 20, 2004)

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has designated the conflict-ridden Arauca region a "special security zone." Both the US government and Occidental Petroleum Corp. have contributed funds to army forces there. However, when "the army, directly or through its collaboration with paramilitary groups, targets health workers, trade unionists, teachers, journalists and human rights defenders and forcibly displaces indigenous and peasant communities who lived near the pipeline," many wonder whose security is at stake. (Guardian)



Seeking Balance: Growth vs. Culture in Amazon (December 10, 2003)

Ecuador's oil reserves may produce 850,000 barrels per day if the Ecuadorian government and oil companies have their way. But indigenous communities near the reserves worry about the environmental impact and wonder if their impoverished villages will see any oil revenue. (New York Times)

Ecuador: Texaco Leaves Trail of Destruction (November 30, 2003)

From 1972 to 1992, Texaco exploited the oil fields in Ecuador, pumping 1.5 billion barrels of oil. But the company did not use disposal methods that became common standards in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. Instead, it dumped its waste directly into streams and the jungle, destroying land, sickening residents and contributing to the demise of indigenous tribes. (Los Angeles Times)

Bolivia: Recuperating Natural Resources, Rebuilding a Nation (November 1, 2003)

Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in South America, yet transnational corporations seek to export its natural gas to the US and Mexico. This article from the Interhemispheric Resource Center tracks Bolivian protests against this possibility, and presents the demands of the major campaigners.

Q & A on Bolivia (October 17, 2003)

People in Bolivia mobilize en masse to oppose the government's plans of selling the continent's second-largest natural gas resources to a consortium of multinational energy companies. They worry that this new round of exporting valuable natural resources will once again benefit only a few people, instead of turning into real development. (ZNet)


Venezuela: The Other Side of the Story (August 29, 2003)

Once again the US government seeks regime change in an oil-rich country. This article looks critically at US involvement in Venezuela and argues that the US media distorts information in favor of the Venezuelan opposition. (International Herald Tribune)




Oil Factor Could Be Tipping Point in Venezuela (December 10, 2002)

The current Venezuelan crisis involves mostly oil-related interests. The US, which relies on Venezuela for some 13 percent of its oil imports, orchestrates behind the scenes efforts to obtain Chavez's resignation. (Christian Science Monitor)


Texas Firms Line Up US Aid in Peru (November 20, 2002)

Two Texas oil companies with strong ties to the White House, Halliburton Co. and Hunt Oil Co., are pursuing an environmentally destructive oil pipeline project that would cut through the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. US support for the project would expose oil companies' relentless political pull in Washington. (Washington Post)

Oil inflames Colombia's Civil War (March 5, 2002)

This article criticizes a proposed US aid bill which is aimed at helping the Colombian military protect oil pipelines in the Aruaca region. As Arauca Mayor Jorge Cedeño points out, instability will continue in the absence of social development, as guerillas offer an attractive alternative for the disaffected rural poor. (Christian Science Monitor)

U.S. Plan Aims to Stem Pipeline's Flow of Trouble (February 6, 2002)

US officials describe a new aid package to Colombia as part of a broader effort to "foster democracy and the rule of law in Colombia." However, the resulting increase in military spending to combat rebels and defend oil pipelines may actually undermine these objectives. (Los Angeles Times)



Venezuelan President Near the Edge (November 1, 2001)

Revenues from oil windfalls have enabled Hugo Chavez to sustain his regime with payoffs to military officials and public spending. Plummeting oil prices threaten to force a face-off between Chavez, with his definitively authoritarian tendencies, and an increasingly dissatisfied military and populace. (Stratfor)

Occidental Petroleum's Cozy Relationship With Colombian Military Turns Fatal (June 30, 2001)

New evidence indicates the active collaboration between Occidental Petroleum (OXY) and the Colombian military in the 1998 Santa Domingo massacre. OXY's Colombian operations continue to be a magnet for violence, highlighting the link between oil extraction and militarization. (Drillbits and Tailings)

Oil Rigged (February 2001)

Authors from the Resource Center of the Americas illustrate the pivotal role of oil in determining US aid policy to Colombia. Troubling questions surround the cost of further militarizing a conflict that has killed tens of thousands and displaced 2 million since 1985.



Tensions Spark Over Ecuadorian Oil Attacks (December 19, 2000)

In the latest of a series of incidents involving Ecuador's oil industry, a pipeline was bombed, with accusations for the incident pointing towards terrorists from Colombia. The attacks "may be an effort to prevent the construction of a new oil pipeline or to extort concessions from Quito." (

Venezuela Will Grant Oil Concessions in Disputed Essequibo Region (July 26, 2000)

Venezuela and Guyana both claim rights to the resource rich Essequibo region which has been a contentious issue for many years. UN officials have been mediating the boundary dispute and hope to reach an agreement during the Millennium Summit in September. (Associated Press)

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