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OCP-Heavy Crude Oil Pipeline, Ecuador


A project for the construction of the OCP (Oleoducto de crudos pesados or heavy crude oil pipeline) was submitted in 2000 to the Ministry of Energy and Mining, and envisaged a pipeline that cut across Ecuador lengthwise for 503 km (312 miles), crossing the Amazon jungle, the Andes, numerous natural reserves and ending on the Pacific coast. An alternative trail of the pipeline, parallel to the already existing SOTE pipeline was proposed but denied by the OCP Ldt. Consortium. Since the pipeline's capacities are underused for Ecuatorian crude oil, Colombia started to use it in 2013 for the exportation of its own crude oil from the port Esmeraldas. In order to make this possible it was necessary to connect Lago Agrio station (connected to the Colombian grid) and the OCP station Amazonas [1]. Such infrastructure costed more than US$8 million.

Community residents and associations mobilised to protect the environment by organising opposition to the project, with a combination of local events and the launch of an International campaign against the OCP. For instance, Acción Ecológica together with CONAIE and the trade union Petroecuador de Ingenieros y Profesionales submitted an application for amparo in May 2001 to the Ecuadorian Supreme Court for the cancellation of the project. It was refused.

The social mobilization was stifled and the OCP is operational since 2003. The oil spills provoked by the OCP pipeline are very numerous and became almost uncountable. In august 8th 2003, an incident during its construction poured out 15.000 barrels into the Cayambe Coca Reserve. A crack in February 2009 affected the population of Santa Rosa County [2] and again in April 2013, an oil spill occurred along the pipeline, discharging over 5.000 barrels in the costal and agrarian region Esmeraldas.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:OCP-Heavy Crude Oil Pipeline, Ecuador
State or province:Pichincha, Sucumbios, Napo, Esmeraldas Regions
Location of conflict:Lago Agrio, Esmeraldas and Calderon (Quito)
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
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Crude oil

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The project cut through Ecuador from an altitude of 300 meters in the Amazon to over 4,000 meters through the Andean ridge and down to sea level. The pipeline traverses seven national parks and protected areas [1] and is 506 km long.

Oil pipeline was expected to handle 450,000 barrels of crude oil per day, compared to the average national daily extraction of 350,000 barrels. The oil passing through the pipeline is exported to the United States, the Caribbean and Asia.

Project area:50300
Level of Investment:1,400,000,000.00
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:10/2010
Company names or state enterprises:Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (Eni) from Italy
OCP Ecuador Ldt. from Ecuador -
Alberta Energy from Canada
Techint - Saneamiento y Urbanización S.A. (SYUSA) from Italy -
Agip Group from Italy
Perez Companc from Argentina
William Corporation - the company dropped its bid for an alternate pipeline in 2000
Occidental Petroleum (OXY) from United States of America -
Kerr-McGee Corp. from United States of America
FLOPEC from Ecuador
Repsol YPF from Spain
Pecom Energia from Argentina
EnCana Corp from Canada
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Ministry of the Environment, Secretaría Nacional de Hidrocarburos del Ecuador
International and Finance InstitutionsWestdeutsche Landesbank (WestLB) from Germany
Chase Manhattan Bank from United States of America
BNL from Italy
Italian Banca Nazionale del Lavoro from Italy
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Accion Ecolgica - Ecuador, CONAIE - Ecuador, Greenpeace, Accion por la Vida - Ecuador, Sindicato Petroecuador de Ingenieros y Profesionales - Ecuador, Community of Lago Agrio - Ecuador, Community of Esmeraldas - Ecuador, Communities of Guarumos, Puerto Quito, San Miguel de Los Bancos, Nono, Gonzal Pizarro - Ecuador, The Least Impact Route Committee - Ecuador, National Network of those Affected by the OCP Construction - Ecuador, Farmers Association of the Communities of Pichincha, Napo ed Esmeraldas - Ecuador, A Sud - Italy, Friends of Earth - USA, Amazon Watch - USA, Rete Lilliput, Ya Basta - Italy, Terra Nuova - Italy, Il Manifesto - Italy, Carta - Italy, Green Party - Italy, Oilwatch - Nigeria

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Soil contamination, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Air pollution, Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Development of alternatives:To stop the operations of the pipeline considering the harm caused to the society and the environment.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:In spite of all the national and international movement made against this installation, this one still went on and is actually operating damaging the evironment and causing social and environmental injustice.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Ecuadorian Constitution

World Bank regulations

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

Las verdades de AGIP-ENI OIL en la Amazonia ecuatoriana. Accion Ecologica. 2005

Informe especial: La ARCO en el Ecuador. Los pueblos Shuar y Achuar una nueva batalla por la soberania. Accion Ecologica. 1999

Petroleo y sociedad. Historia de una riqueza. Comite de empresa de los trabajadores de petroecuador. 1998

Il sangue della terra. Atlante geografico del petrolio. A Sud. Derive-Approdi. 2006

Atlas amazonico de Ecuador, resistencia y agresiones. Accion Ecologica-CONAIE. 2006

Mushuk Allpa - La experiencia de los indigenas de Pastaza en la conservacion de la Selva Amazonica. Charvet, Erika Silva. Fundacion Instituo Amazanga. 2003

Marea Negra en la Amazonia. Autori Vari. Abya-yala. 1995

Cancer en la Amazonia del Ecuador. Hurting, Anna-Karin; San Sebastian, Miguel. Abya-yala. 2002

El nuevo oleoducto de crudos pesados en Ecuador, Amazon Watch, June 2001

OCP: Independent Compliance Assessment of OCP with the World Bank’s Environmental and Social Policies, Robert Goodman, 2002

Pastaza Runakuna Tantanakuy. Organizacion de los pueblos indigenas de Pastaza. 2001

Conflictos socio-ambientales en el Ecuador. Granda, Alicia. Accion Ecologica. 2001

Los encadenados del oleoducto. Narvez Quinez, Ivn; Galarza Bastidas, Ramiro; Villavicencio Valencia, Fernando; Ortiz Cevallos, Miguel. Federacion de trabajadores petroleros. 1996

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Colombia transportará crudo por oleoducto ecuatoriano, 11/08/2011

OCP Ecuador Official website

Controlada la rotura en el oleoducto de crudos pesados, 5.500 barriles se derramaron, 08/04/2013

Ecologists protest against OCP

Crudo colombiano del Putumayo se transportará por un oleoducto del Ecuador, 23/08/2013

¿Por qué hay un derrame petrolero por semana en Ecuador?, I. Gil, BBC Mundo, 13/06/2013

[2] La Tierra sangra desde hace cuatro décadas en el Ecuador, Una cronología de los derrames de petróleo en el país de 1972 a 2014, V. Aumala, 29/09/2014

[1] OCP Pipeline to transport crude oil from Colombia

Oleoducto de crudos pesados.

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Oleoducto, contaminación y pobreza, 2002. Full Movie : Amazon Oil Pipeline-Pollution, Corruption and Poverty

Meta information

Contributor:Lucie Greyl
Last update18/08/2019



OCP Pipeline under construction