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The Yasuní National Park oil blocks

Five oil concessions that cover the Yasuni National Park

Five oil concessions cover the Yasuní National Park - crudely rectangular ‘blocks’ enclosing about 200,000 hectares each. They have been allocated by the Government of Ecuador to oil companies on the assumption that, although industrial activity on the surface within the Park remains illegal, the state owns the subsoil and is entitled to sell the right to explore for oil. Exploration within the park has already taken place in all five blocks.

Three of the blocks partially overlap the northern and western extent of the Park. They are already in production, thus far largely in parts of the blocks that lie outside the Park:

  • Block 14 is operated by Andes Oil, a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Corporation.

  • Block 15 is operated by Petroecuador, the national oil company of Ecuador.

  • Block 16 is operated by Repsol-YPF, a combination of the former state oil companies of Spain and Argentina, now privatized.

Two of the blocks lie almost entirely within the Park. Activity here has so far been largely restricted to exploration. Both partially overlap an area to the south where indigenous peoples have been granted the legal right to live in isolation.

Block 31 is operated by the Brazilian national oil company Petrobras (though the majority shareholding is private).

The ITT Project is operated by Petroecuador, which is seeking partnerships with other national oil companies, including Sinopec (China), PDVSA (Venezuela) and Petrobras (Brazil).

New Internationalist issue 413 magazine cover This article is from the July 2008 issue of New Internationalist.
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