[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
DELTA #3 9/12
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject: DELTA #3 9/12
- From: email@example.com
- Date: Sat, 1 Nov 1997 23:51:47 GMT
- Cc: <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <Irene.Bloemink@milieudefensie.nl>, <email@example.com>, <Olisa@rcl.nig.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>, <AndyRowell@dirtrack.demon.co.uk>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>
OCCIDENTAL & SHELL THREATEN THE U'WA OF COLUMBIA:
TRIBE CONTEMPLATES MASS SUICIDE
The U'wa in Colombia are in an almost identical situation to the Ogonis in
1993: a rising level of political education and empowerment, and the
potential for mass mobilisation. Following the first Ogoni Day when MOSOP
first stated their non-violent opposition to Shell's operations, the
killings in the Delta began in earnest. A matter of urgent concern today in
Colombia is therefore the current level of violence in the region, and the
very real possibility that such violence, including killings, may be used in
the immediate future to 'persuade' the U'wa to reconsider their stand.
"I sing the traditional songs to my children. I teach them that everything
is sacred and linked. How can I tell Shell and Oxy that to take the petrol
is for us worse than killing your own mother? If you kill the Earth, then no
one will live." -U'wa woman, August, 1997
The U'wa people have lived peacefully in the cloud forests of the Colombian
Andes for as long as anyone can remember. The last great tragedy to befall
these 5,000 people happened 400 years ago, when according to oral histories,
a portion of the tribe committed mass ritual suicide rather than submit
themselves to Spanish rule. Today, the U'wa are once again talking about
death as new invaders - Occidental Petroleum ('Oxy') and Shell - move on to
their land. As the project moves forward one thing becomes very clear:
Whether it is through the pollution of the land they consider sacred, the
increased violence that the project will inevitably bring, or by their own
hand, oil exploration means the death of the U'wa.
Oil Project Overview
In April of 1992, Los-Angeles based Occidental Petroleum was granted
exploration rights to much of traditional U'wa territory-known to the oil
companies as the "Samoré block." Shell and Oxy each have a 37.5% investment
share in the project, and Ecopetrol, the Columbian national oil company, has
25%. Oxy, the operator of the joint venture, believes the field to hold
approximately 1.5 billion barrels of oil, slightly less than three months
worth of oil for the United States. Since the beginning, Samore project has
been plagued by guerrilla violence and the steadfast opposition of the U'wa.
If it can be brought to production, Oxy and Shell stand to make millions in
profits from what could be one of the largest oil fields in this hemisphere.
Columbia & Oil
Colombia is the fourth-largest and fastest-growing major exporter of oil in
South America, increasing its output by nearly 30 percent in 1995, and
expecting to double its production by 1998. Under pressure from the United
States and international financial institutions, the Colombian government
has turned to increased oil production as a way to pay off its debts. For
the peoples of Columbia living in oil regions though, multinational oil
exploitation has brought pollution and conflict.
As Occidental knows, the growing oil infrastructure has served as a magnet
for violence. Oxy's Cano Limon pump station and pipeline in Arauca which
controls almost one third of Colombia's oil export has been attacked by
guerrillas 473 times in its 11 years of existence. Like in Nigeria and
Burma, multinational oil companies are turning to the military to protect
their investments. With the strong presence of guerrillas in the area, the
Colombian military - recognized as having one of the worst human rights
records in the world and armed with the latest equipment and weapons by the
U.S. government - has moved in to protect Oxy's and Shell's oil interests.
Human rights observers contend and Occidental officials privately concede
that oil industry activity in the region will only serve to heighten and
focus the violence.
In the last decade, some 1.4 million barrels of crude oil have spilled
because of pipeline sabotage in Colombia (the Exxon Valdez spill was only
36,000 barrels). As the Samoré block is located in one of the highest
conflict areas of the country, it is impossible to imagine that the project
will not result in significant environmental damage to the U'wa homeland.
This is situated at the headwaters of the Orinoco river basin, which flows
through sensitive rainforest ecosystems and other indigenous homelands on
its way to the sea. All of this is threatened for three months of oil.
"Now they say that the government wants to know our thoughts about the oil
project, but if they don't like what we think, they will simply proceed with
their own decisions." - Roberto Cobaria, President of the Traditional U'wa
In their search for justice the U'wa have turned to both national and
international legal fora, neither of which has yet to fully recognise the
U'wa's right to protect their land and culture. In early 1997, two
contradictory rulings on the U'wa case were handed down by Colombian courts,
with the Council of State's decision taking precedent. This ruling found
that the State's right to develop its natural resources, in this case oil,
superseded the U'wa's constitutional right to consultation and defence of
its cultural identity.
Looking internationally, the U'wa have recently petitioned the
Inter-American Human Rights of the OAS to call for the project's
cancellation in defence of the U'wa's human rights. Meanwhile, in response
to a request from the Colombian government, the OAS in conjunction with
Harvard University, has issued a series of recommendations in regards to the
Samoré block, intended to serve as a guide to resolve the conflict between
the U'wa and oil interests. This report advocates several positives steps to
be taken in favor of the U'wa, including an immediate and unconditional
suspension of all oil activities in the Samoré block, and the legal
recognition of the U'wa's full traditional territory. However, it also
recommends a process of consultation with the U'wa which is based on
recognizing the Colombian's States right to exploit oil over the U'wa's
right to halt it. The OAS / Harvard path to conflict resolution, therefore,
depends on the U'wa giving up both their position of resistance as well as
their vow to collective suicide if the project goes ahead. These assumptions
not only disregard the U'wa's rights, but in the end could prove horribly
What you can do:
Write to Oxy and Shell asking them in your own words to cancel their plans
for the Samoré block. Let them know that you hold them responsible for the
Dr. Ray R. Irani, CEO
Occidental Petroleum Corp.
10889 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA
Fax: +1 310 443 6922
Phillip J. Carroll, CEO
PO Box 2463
Houston, TX 77252, USA
Fax: +1 713 241 4044
The above text can be made into a factsheet. For more information, contact:
Project Underground, tel: +1 510 705 8981 e-mail:
Rainforest Action Network, tel: +1 415 398 4404 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
U'wa Project International, tel: +1 818 503 8353 e-mail: email@example.com
CHAD COULD BE THE NEXT NIGER DELTA
+ In Nigeria's neighbouring country Chad, Shell, Exxon and Elf are starting
new oil operations. An Environmental Impact Assessment has not been
finalised, the economic benefits for the oil producing region are doubtful,
and the first protests are already being suppressed. All the ingredients of
a new, Nigeria-like oil conflict are present. Report from Irene Bloemink of
The Doba-region in southern Chad and the Niger Delta have much in common.
Both regions have fertile soil and are capable of producing sufficient food
for the population. In both regions the minority people also feel suppressed
and discriminated against by a northern majority group. Human rights
violations are a common phenomenon. And: there is oil. The big difference,
however, is the stage of the oil exploitation. Nigeria has had 40 years of
oil production with all the associated social and environmental impacts,
whereas oil exploitation in the Doba-region is only about to begin.
In Chad 225,000 b/d will be produced by 300 wells from the year 2000.
Unconfirmed reports reveal reserves four times greater than Nigeria's. The
oil from Chad is to be transported through Cameroon to the port of Kribi.
The consortium, comprising 40 % Shell, 40 % Exxon and 20 % Elf, has applied
for a $120 million loan from the World Bank's IDA Fund. This fund, set up
for poverty alleviation (!) would provide the oil companies with the
necessary political support, in addition to the financial support, for the
pipeline facilities. The Bank will probably make its final decision before
the summer of 1998.
"The World Bank has to accept that its real instrument of torture is its
insistence on growth, its economic theorising at the expense of human
welfare... The sooner debtor ntions realise the political nature of the
World Bank, the sooner they will be able to face the bogus economic theories
of the Bank with an equivalent weapon - people's power." - Ken Saro-Wiwa
The oil companies could have learned from the environmental and human rights
disaster in the Niger Delta. Reports from Chad and Cameroon, however,
consistently indicate the similarlities with the Nigeria debacle.
The consortium signed the exploitation deal with the (northern-based)
government of Chad in February 1995, without having completed an
Environmental Impact Assesment (EIA) for the production or transportation -
like they would do in Britain or the Netherlands. It remains unclear how the
consortium is going to prevent major and minor oil spills, and it is
estimated that an average of 7000 litres a day from the total spillages will
remain undetected. In Cameroon the 1100 km pipeline will cut through
Both in Chad and Cameroon the local people have hardly been involved at all
in decision-making regarding the oil operations. Many of the inhabitants in
the affected areas do not even know about the forthcoming oil development,
while hundreds of others have already been relocated or will have to be in
the near future. Compensation is low, and according to the Environmental
Defense Fund, the President of Chad responded to questions about
compensation by saying that they "have not thought about it yet". Exxon
claims to have held public meetings and consultations with NGOs. But one of
the Cameroonian NGOs, quoted in a pre-document of Exxon as having been
consulted, told western visitors that they were not willing to cooperate
with the oil companies. They added that Exxon would not provide most of the
relevant documents, and did not allow the NGOs to take any documents home
for serious study.
The growing discontent of the affected people and of the NGOs has been
further fed by doubts over the government of Chad's intention to really
share the economic benefits of the oil with the inhabitants from the region
itself. The financial flow runs to the state and the recent history of Chad
shows an unequal distribution. Opposition is usually suppressed, as has
already been the case when M. Yorongar, MP from the oil producing Logone
Oriental region, raised the issue with the authorities. Threats were made to
remove his parliamentary immunity, the step before the government can arrest
The response of the consortium to possible opposition is one of violence,
according to Jeune Afrique. In May this year the magazine revealed that 2000
mercenary soldiers and 10 helicopters would be hired to "protect the pipeline".
The question is: who will protect the people? A man from the Doba-region in
Chad was killed by an Exxon security guard when he took his two children to
watch the landing of a plane. The military stated in a subsequent report
that the man was a rebel, and the case was closed.
Fears of further escalation of oil-related violence are understandable.
Further instability in Chad, Camaroon, and across West Africa is likely.
DELTA will keep you informed, or you can contact Amis de la Terre in France
for more information and action material on Elf and the French
representative of the World Bank, or Friends of the Earth Netherlands for
letter writing actions to the Dutch Director of the Bank. The Environmental
Defense Fund can also provide you with their report 'Chad: the new Ogoniland?'
Milieudefensie, Damrak 26, Postbus 19199, 1000 GD Amsterdam, the Netherlands
tel: + 31 20 622 1366, fax + 31 20 627 5287
Environmental Defence Fund, 1875 Connecticut Avenue. NW, Suite 1016,
Washington DC, 20009, USA
tel: +1 202 387 3500, fax +1 202 234 6049, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SHELL AND THE TIMOR GAP
TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Camapign, based in London, is launching a
campaign to force Shell to give up its exploration rights in the Timor Gap
between East Timor and Australia.
The former Portuguese colony of East Timor was invaded by Indonesian armed
forces in 1975. Over 200,000 people, about one-third of the population,
have been killed as a result of the armed occupation, which continues to
this day. Torture and brutal repression are widespread throughout the
The British Government has, for reasons of commercial expediency, done
nothing to end the appalling tragedy of East Timor. Instead, it has made
huge commitments of aid to the murderous Indonesian regime, facilitated the
sale of arms, such as Hawk aircraft, and promoted British business to its
position as the leading Western investor in Indonesia.
In December 1989, Indonesia and Australia signed the Timor Gap Treaty - an
agreement for the exploration and development of the resources of the Timor
Gap, which covers some 67,800 sq. km of the Timor Sea. The Treaty ignores
the right of the East Timorese to the resources in their own waters and
infringes their legal and human right to self-determination.
Shell is by far the largest operator in the Timor Gap, either in its own
right or through its significant shareholding in the Australian company,
Woodside Petroleum. According to the latest information, it has interests
in five of the eleven licences granted for the central zone which contains
the most oil and gas reserves.
In demanding that Shell ceases its operations immediately, Arsénio Bano, an
East Timorese refugee working for TAPOL, said: "Shell's continued
involvement in the Timor Gap amounts to complicity in Indonesia's
suppression of East Timor's basic rights and freedoms".
Shell has maintained its interest in Indonesia itself since the original
Shell Transport and Trading Company was set up a hundred years ago to
finance oil exploration on the Indonesian island of Kalimantan (formerly
Its current interests include six contracts for oil exploration in the Java
Sea to the north of the island of Java and a contract for exploration and
development off the north-east coast of Kalimantan. It is also involved in
the marketing of oil and chemicals, the manufacturing of petrochemicals and
bitumen, and has worked closely with the Indonesian company, Bimantara,
owned by President's Suharto's son, Bambang. These companies have approvals
to build a $1 billion oil refinery in East Java and another refinery in
For more information, contact Paul Barber at TAPOL on tel +44 171 497 5355,
PERUVIAN INDIANS DENOUNCE SHELL'S POLLUTION
Concern over Shell's new $2.7 billion gas project in an isolated region of
the Peruvian Amazon continues to grow both internationally and in Peru. As
covered in Rainforest Action Network's February Action Alert, and in our
Independent Annual Report of the Royal Dutch / Shell Groups of Companies
(published with Project Underground in May) the oil giant's Amazon project
poses a serious threat to the rainforest ecosystem and local communities.
Over sixty indigenous, environmental, and human rights organizations from
around the world have called on Shell and its investment partner, Mobil, to
suspend its operations immediately.
Meanwhile, Amazonian communities on the front lines have also sounded the
alarm. Recently, the Peruvian indigenous federation COMARU denounced Shell's
toxic contamination of rivers and creeks as it searches for gas reserves.
COMARU, representing thirteen Machiguenga com-munities directly affected by
Shell's activities, cited the National Engineering University's recent
analysis of water samples from creeks near Shell's drilling sites, and which
flow into rivers used by Machiguenga villages for drinking, bathing and
fishing. Test results found levels of hydrocarbons, cadmium and mercury in
these waters to exceed levels permitted under Peruvian law. International
organizations familiar with Shell's toxic legacy on Ogoni lands in Nigeria
fear that these results are yet another indication of Shell's continuing
pattern of broken promises, all at the expense of the local communities.
For more information, contact the Information Department, Rainforest Action
Network, 221 Pine Street, Suite 500, San Francisco CA 94104 USA, tel:
415-398-4404, fax 415-398-2732, e-mail email@example.com
DELTA: News and background on Ogoni, Shell and Nigeria
Box Z, 13 Biddulph Street, Leicester LE2 1BH, UK
tel/fax: +44 116 255 3223 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org