Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chevron on offensive in Ecuador trial

There’s an old saying: “the best defense is a good offense.” Oil giant Chevron has taken that advice to heart in a case where it’s being sued for alleged environmental damage in Ecuador.

The company has desperately tried to seek a dismissal of the case; in February, Chevron's general counsel accused a geological engineer serving as a court advisor of being “biased” and acting in favor of the plaintiffs. (The plaintiffs are Ecuadorian natives seeking $27 billion in damages for the alleged dumping of waste water in the jungle).

Some of Chevron’s stockholders have called for an environmental protection report to be conducted related to the case in Ecuador. Chevron’s management- as you might imagine- were none too happy with the proposal and have since gone on the attack:
In a letter on Wednesday urging investors to vote it down, Chevron said proposal backer Trillium Asset Management, a Boston-based manager of socially responsible funds, had waged carefully orchestrated media campaigns every year over the past half-decade.

"In their campaign for this year's annual stockholder meeting, the plaintiffs' lawyers and their colleagues have added a new dimension to their pressure strategy: a campaign to generate fear in the investment community," Chief Governance Officer Lydia Beebe wrote in the letter filed with regulators.
A spokeswoman for Trillium rejected Beebe’s claims and deemed it as a “a tactic to scare shareholders."

Image- Time (“The lawsuit alleges that Texaco, acquired by Chevron in 2001, left behind oil waste pits during the eighteen years in which it drilled in the region and that this has contributed to a higher rate of cancer and other ailments among the settlers and indigenous people who live there. This photo shows a waste pit left by Petro Ecuador, Texaco's partner in the region.”)
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Reuters,


Millie said...

These are VERY carefully crafted reports designed to shed the worst possible light on Chevron. The only date I see here is 2001 which is when Chevron acquired Texaco. A more significant date 1992 is missing which is the date that Texaco and the government run Petro Ecuador last had any kind of partnership and that culminated in a significant payment to Patro Ecuador to remediate. After 17 years of Petro Ecuador's worsening ecological activities- the blame is being deposited on Chevron's doorstep! That all seemed to be missing in the reports. It just seems that the news reports are deliberately and cleverly crafted to maximize outrage against Chevron - quite frankly, I REFUSE to be manipulated like that.

Erwin C. said...

A few things:

1 - Do you do p.r. or work directly for Texaco and/or Chevron? (I ask since a previous post had comments from a gentleman who claimed to represent Chevron).

2 - Let's assume that Petro Ecuador did a sloppy job in '92 with handling the waste water and the firm has done worse environmental damage than Texaco did. That still doesn't excuse Texaco/Chevron from possible environmental damage 20 years before their alliance with Petro Ecuador ended.

3 - if Chevron management is so certain of the firm's innocence in this case then why not accede to the "environmental protection report". The study could vindicate the firm.

I'm not taking sides; but there were thoughts that emerged after reading your reply.

Anna Kay said...

Chevron needs to stop that nonsense and help those poor Ecuadorians suffering from the contamination. Instead of wasting money trying to cover it up, paying lawyers and fighting in courts, Chevron should just clean this mess up.
Here's an interesting blog: