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Ecuadors prior consult in the oil blocks 20 and 29, Ecuador


Oil production in Ecuador is a leading economic activity. It started at the ends of the 1960s and it has been concentrated mainly in the northern Amazonian region. By the beginning of the XXI century, the Ecuadorian government wanted to expand this activity into the centre-south of the Amazonian Region. This area is also the ancestral territory of diverse indigenous peoples. With this propose, the Ecuadorian government called for the IX Oil Bidding Round which included the Amazonian oil blocks 20 and 29. Unlike the previous experience of oil production, this time Ecuador had a new legislative framework in which indigenous collective rights were acknowledged. Among them, it was included the right to prior consultation regarding economic activities such as oil activity in indigenous territories. This right did not grant indigenous peoples with the veto option. Within this context, the Ecuadorian government through the Salesian Polytechnic University carried out the process of consultation for the oil blocks 20 and 29. During the process, incipient local resistance emerged linked to local environmental organizations opposed to oil activity. Once it finished, due to the way it was carried out, many local organizations joined together to fight for the nullity of the process.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Ecuadors prior consult in the oil blocks 20 and 29, Ecuador
State or province:Provinces of Napo, Pastaza and Orellana
Location of conflict:Municipalities of Archidona, Tena, Juan Carlos Arosemena Tola, Santa Clara, Arajuno, Loreto
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Project area:448,276
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:87,927 inhabitants
Start of the conflict:2003
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Energy and Mines
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Accion Ecologica, Clinica de Abogados de Derechos Humanos de la PUCE, Confederacion de Nacionalidades de Indigenas del Ecuador-CONAIE (the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador), Centro de Derechos Economicos y Sociales-CDES, Fundacion Regional de Asesora en Derechos Humanos (INREDH)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of mobilization:Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:The Ecuadorian government stopped the bidding of these two blocks, but later in 2008 it granted the block 20 to another oil company without any king of consutation
Development of alternatives:The principal base organizations that opposed to this process of consultation and more generally to oil activity were developing more sustainable economic activities such as ecotourism, fair trade chocolate, and agro-forestry.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:In 2004, local opposition with the legal support of the CDES and PUCE filed a lawsuit demanding the invalidity of the process. After years of waiting as the judicial body was dissolved when the president Lucio Gutirrez was overthrew (2005), in 2008 the government of Rafael Correa granted the block 20 to the oil company Ivanhoe without any kind of consultation.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict


Regulation of Consult and Participation for the hydrocarbon activity N 3401


References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Ministerio de Recursos Naturales No Renovables
[click to view]

Oil exploitation in the Amazon basin of Ecuador: a public health emergency
[click to view]

Miguel San Sebastin and Anna-Karin Hurtig;

Latorre, Sara. 2005. La aplicacion de la consulta previa del Convenio 169 de la OIT en un conflicto petrolero en la Amazona ecuatoriana. Proyecto de Fin de Carrera de Ciencias Ambientales. Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona.

Frente de Comunidades Kichwas de Rukullacta, Asociacion Kallari, Ricancie, Rekoca, y cantn Archidona. 2004. Pronunciamiento sobre la consulta previa en los bloques 20 y 29. Pp: 173-186. In: Petroleo y desarrollo sostenible en Ecuador.2. Las apuestas. Ed. Guillaume Fontaine. Ed. FLASO, Ecuador.

Izko, Xavier. 2004. La consulta petrolera-bloques 20 y 29 de la Amazona ecuatoriana: entre el desafo y la nostalgia. Pp: 187-230. In: In: Petroleo y desarrollo sostenible en Ecuador.2. Las apuestas. Ed. Guillaume Fontaine. Ed. FLASO, Ecuador.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

BBC World (in Spanish)
[click to view]

New Oil Blocks to be Actioned in Ecuadors Amazon Region
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Sara Latorre
Last update08/04/2014
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