• May 5th 2009 at 4:25PM
  • 22
Chevron, America's third largest company, may be asked to pay up to $27 billion in damages in a lawsuit arising from oil-drilling related pollution in an Ecuadorian portion of the Amazon rain forest. The damage is the result of 23 years of oil extraction by Texaco, which Chevron bought in 2001, and Petroecuador, the national oil company. A suit was first filed in 1993 in a federal court in New York and, for nine years, the oil company fought for the trial to be held in Ecuador. In a textbook example of "be careful what you wish for," Texaco won that battle but now the new owners find themselves facing big time judgment in a small court in Lago Agrio.

The case is full of claims and counterclaims and so 60 Minutes took the time to actually go to Ecuador and talk with some of the people involved and check out some of the pollution ponds that dot the area. They also sat down with Chevron's manager of global issues and policy, Silvia Garrigo, who presented their side of the story. It all makes for informative and, if you like to watch corporate mouthpieces squirm, entertaining watching. Unfortunately, even if the court does order the company to pay the full requested amount, Chevron is determined not to fork over any cash. In a news report-style video of their own that questions pretty much every aspect of the case, they say that, "...if the verdict goes against it, it will appeal in Ecuador and, if needed, will fight its enforcement." Hit the jump for the 60 Minutes video as well as the Chevron presentation.

[Source: CBS News 60 Minutes via Plug In America / YouTube]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Holy corporate mouthpieces, Batman! Didn't anyone notice that all 7 "expert" speakers (except the one from UC) in the video were identified as associated with Chevron!!! This is a hit-piece on Ecuador from the typical big biz flacks.
      • 6 Years Ago
      To find out more about that mess, read this blog: http://www.thechevronpit.blogspot.com
        • 6 Years Ago
        A blog by lawyers suing Chevron about the oil giant's human rights problems in Ecuador and across the world

        Yeah. Sounds like a very impartial blog. What ever happened to, Believe nothing that you read and only half of what you see!?
      • 6 Years Ago
      FYI, for anyone looking for a bit of levity with respect to Chevron's ridiculous fake news cast, my blog took a satirical look at the situation... http://tinyurl.com/r8zbd3
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is the type of exploitation that harvests anti American sentiment in the third world. Sentiment which ultimately taxes the American people in the form of terrorism, region destabilization, increased immigration etc.

      At the time of the agreement, Ecuadorians were poorly represented, this is obvious in the lack of protection they were granted, why they were not given a provision that tied Texaco to complete the cleaning in lieu of resources from Petroecuador is beyond me. The likes of Texaco and now Chevron have no moral compass, where is the fairness? where are their corporate values? where are their personal, individual values? lets not forget it is individuals who ultimately run these corporation and their distasteful practices.

      The short sighted nature of the corporate world (and the politician they bribe) is bound to continue the pursuance of irresponsible practices. For example, Rep. Dean Cannon (R - Orlando, FL) has introduced a bill to the Florida legislature to lift the 30 year old drilling ban off the Florida coast ( http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/article993786.ece). I wonder if the tide will wash away his responsibilities as the ocean makes room for his oil pumps.
      • 6 Years Ago
      WOW! The lawyers made a FORTUNE!

      (let's skin them to make belts)
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is Justin with Chevron Corporation and I’d like to bring to your attention a recent story published by the Columbia Journalism Review’s The Audit. In its assessment of CBS’s coverage of the Ecuador lawsuit The Audit concludes that there are elements of the 60 Minutes story that are unfair to Chevron and that the overall segment “was an exercise in innuendo.” The Audit goes on to say that, “Even in these days of cutbacks to news operations, 60 Minutes could have—and should have—done better.” I encourage those that have watched or a planning to view the segment to take a moment to read the following article: http://www.cjr.org/audit_arbiter/a_polluted_60_minutes_story.php
      • 6 Years Ago
      This has the same smell as the suit that was brought against Dole bananas, claiming that pesticides had rendered dozens of poor, noble farm workers sterile.

      Turns out the whole stinking thing was faked up by some other self-styled "eco-radicals". The whole thing's been found out, and apparently some "eco-radical" lawyers here in the states may be prosecuted over their role.
      • 6 Years Ago
      What a cluster f***.

      There's greed on both sides. How much of that 28 billion is the lawyer from NY going to get?

      Sounds like Petroecaudor did a ton of damage too.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Read the book "Confessions of an Economic Hitman." I think you'll enjoy it and be disturbed by it also.

        Much of the time these types of countries have no choice but to take the ultimatums the US gives them. It's no coincidence that companies like Halliburton, Brown and Root, Bechtel, etc are all over the place in places they have no business being all the while making billions.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Look into who sits on PetroEcuador and what backdoor policies they have with Chevron. I'll bet some of the money goes straight back to Chevron under spin-offs of all kinds...ExxonMobil has been doing it all the time.

        Countries like Ecuador are deep in debt (or were at least) with the US. Most of them have their hands forced.
        • 6 Years Ago
        If PetroEcuador is having their terms dictated to them by Chevron, why did Chevron dictate terms that were even less favorable?

        PetroEcuador selected and negotiated with a partner. This garnered them 60% of the profits (not revenues).
        • 6 Years Ago
        Anyway, they could just have held out and gone with another company. Perhaps with the Chinese company that is operating there now and had a pipeline break shown in the report at the end? Then they'd be far better off.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Of course some of it goes back, as Chevron was the operator, they do get paid to operate the fields.

        But again, if PetroEcuador is so feeble, why do they get 60% minus expenses/kickbacks instead of 30% minus expenses/kickbacks?
        • 6 Years Ago
        PetroEcuador got 60% of the profits. How did they manage to negotiate that if they were so feeble as you say?
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think it's not getting through to you. This is revenue Chevron wouldn't get at all otherwise for one. And two..and point you keep missing again and again...you have no idea how much revenue actually makes it back to Chevron....even under the guise of PetroEcuador.

        Go to Tehran, Iran....a place where American companies are not allowed to operate. Yet somehow, Halliburton has an office there under unofficial capacity...operating with no real "benefit."

        First they send the economic hitmen..then the jackals if that fails...then the military. Get with it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It seems you're a bit dense. Forced hand is the key word...understand it. 60% of the profits may go to PetroEcuador but you have no idea under what circumstances those are being done under.

      • 6 Years Ago
      What a nifty, neat-o, and keen way of Nationalizing an oil company and not paying a dime for it.

      For all of you who think the oil production would just go away, you are a bigger chumps than I thought. See what a law school education can do for you?
      Steal billions, with the drop of a pen.
      • 6 Years Ago
      While the poster revels in watching corporate stiff squirm, here's some info the 60 Minutes was too busy to "report" - http://businessandmedia.org/printer/2009/20090504063206.aspx
        • 6 Years Ago
        Huh? Except for the fecal coliform, that's very similar data. 60 Minutes most definitely does not give a pass to the Ecudoran courts system.

        Note that the point of this report you post is that they claim that these wells now below to PetroEcuador, which is mentioned several times in the 60 Minutes story. The 60 Minutes story however mentions that Chevron was the operator of these wells, and the tailings of a well are always the responsibility of the operator. Even if this were not true, there are reportedly 961 wells, of which Chevron cleaned up 130 or so, far less than the 40% represented by their equity in the consortium.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I included the Chevron-produced video in the post which makes the same points as Poor's piece, except for the Obama "connection". I find it amusing that Poor refers to Pelly's report as "one-sided" considering the tone of his "report" and the "institute" that he works for.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm the last person to defend the sleaze at Chevron, but this smells of your typical 60 Minutes which hunt.
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