Ecuador to Drill for Oil in Amazon’s Yasuni basin
Ecuador announced on Thursday that it will open up the Yasuni basin of the Amazon rainforest to oil drilling.
President Rafael Correa announced that drilling for oil will now take place, after his alternative conservation plan failed to received enough financial backing. Correa launch a novel initiative in 2007, in which he pledged to hold off on oil drilling if the international community pledged $3.6 billion to his government over 12 years – roughly half the value of the oil thought to be under the Yasuni basin. Over the course of five years European governments and environmental charities pledged $366 million and only actually paid around $13.3 million.
“I have signed the executive decree for the liquidation of the Yasuni-ITT trust fund and through it, end the initiative,” Correa said in a televised address.
With the end of the initiative, oil companies will now be able to drill in the Yasuni basin, which is thought to contain more than 800 million barrels of crude oil worth some $7.2 billion. The Yasuni basin is renowned as an area of high biodiversity, with more species of tree in a single hectare of the Yasuni national partk that in the whole of North America. In addition to the damage to wildlife and the environment there are concerns for the livelihoods of indigenous people who live in the remote area.
President Correa said that the drilling was essential to expand revenues and help to alleviate poverty. He also tried to play down the impact that it would have, saying that the drilling would only affect around 0.01% of the Yasuni basin. This did not appease protesters, however, dozens of whom gathered outside the presidential palace to condemn the move.