Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa expressed his full support here Thursday for Argentine counterpart Cristina Fernandez despite her government’s decision to partner with U.S. oil supermajor Chevron Corp, which has been locked in a long-running legal spat with Ecuadorian plaintiffs.
“We completely trust Cristina Fernandez. If Cristina had been president of Ecuador at the time when Texaco (acquired by Chevron in 2001) destroyed the Ecuadorian jungle, she never would’ve allowed it to happen,” Correa said upon his arrival in Buenos Aires.
“All our support for Cristina’s government,” Correa said, refusing to criticize Buenos Aires for a $1.5 billion joint-venture deal in July linking Argentine state-controlled oil firm YPF and Chevron, which will jointly develop massive shale oil and gas deposits.
Correa is scheduled to meet with Fernandez before presiding over the inauguration of a regional conference of the Scout movement.
In 2011, four-dozen named plaintiffs representing tens of thousands of Indians and villagers in Ecuador’s Amazon region won a nearly $20 billion judgment in Ecuador against Chevron for oil pollution between 1964 and 1990.
During much of that period, Texaco was the operator of a consortium that drilled in that area of Ecuador’s northeast and which also included state oil company Petroecuador as majority owner.
Chevron blames Petroecuador for the pollution.
Since Chevron has little in the way of assets in Ecuador, the plaintiffs must seek to collect on the judgment elsewhere.
Their efforts to do so were dealt a major setback Tuesday when an arbitration panel in The Hague found that a previous Ecuadorian government in the late 1990s had certified Texaco’s clean-up efforts and released it from liability from any future claims.