Kick-off for the oil exploitation in the Yasuni’s reserve in Equador : an inevitable economic constraint for the country ?

On September 7th, 2015, Ecuador declared the implementation of oil exploitation in the park of Yasuni, located in the middle of the Amazon forest, classified at the world heritage of UNESCO. This decision within a protected national park, rich in biodiversity, causes mitigated reactions.

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A decision brought by the failure of the Yasuni-ITT funds

In 2007, President Rafael Correa, took for commitment not to exploit the 846 million barrels of oil which doze under the Park of Yasuni, just before the general meeting of the United Nations. To compensate this economic loss, the president launched a campaign to create funds, to be managed by the UNDP, with the aim to collect more than 3.5 billion dollars. In the name of the states’ shared responsibility against the climate change, in particular the historical responsibility for the developed countries, the president hoped to collect enough money. This campaign unfortunately failed since only 13.3 million dollars were collected, far from the set objective. So the money was returned to the givers.

The indifference of the international community resulted in the difficulty to exploit oil to the detriment of the biodiversity, indigenous populations and environment in general. In August 2013, the president launched the kick-off for the exploration and the exploitation of the site of the Park of Yasuni. This decision attests the lack of conviction on the part of the President.

A new oil era for Ecuador

After heated debates around the exploitation or not of oil in the area of the park of Yasuni, a new prosperous horizon appears for oil. Indeed, the government’s company “Pétroamazonas” begins rough pumping from oil to reach a production of 23000 barrels per day since March 2016 which is much more than the estimated results. By 2022, the company hopes to reach more than 300 000 barrels per day. This exploitation is opposite to the commitment of the country to reduce its energy dependence regarding fossil energies, especially after the decision of the COP21. Indeed, Ecuador will not release itself from its dependence to oil and will become a bigger GHG producer.

Oil accounts for 52% of exports and so it weighs heavy in the trade balance. In other words, if Ecuador plans to deprive itself from this financial resource, he would be amputee of 7 billion dollars of receipts. Indeed, the Ecuadorian president, who plead for an energy transition and talk about a crime “against nature” according to the international law, must reconcile his own convictions with the situation of his country. Indeed, the president wants “to use until the last one drips oil to leave poverty as fast as possible” as he declared at the time of the top of the COP21, as his country suffers much from poverty.

The title of the article refers to the question asked by referendum to Ecuadorian people. On this question, they expressed themselves massively for the exploitation of oil with a total of 60% votes in favour of the exploitation. Insofar, it is not possible to criticize the decision taken by the Ecuador, which is actually a marginal polluter.

Does oil production go hand-in-hand with the reduction of poverty? Could Ecuador free itself from this resource essential to its economy in favour of the safeguarding of the environment? It’s quite hard to give an answer which could satisfy all the stakeholders.

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