There is no arguing that Ecuador’s Amazon region is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. Its rainforests are home to a vast amount of plant and animal species. Many of these plants and animals are unique to this region, and can go extinct, if this area is not protected. The Yasuni National Park region, which is located in the heart of the Ecuadorian rainforest, is also home to groups of indigenous peoples, who have been living in this area for hundreds of years and managed to preserve their culture and way of life. These groups depend on the biodiversity of this region, in order to survive. If the biodiversity of these regions is harmed, it will cause extensive damage to these already small and decreasing societies.
Block 16 is an area, which hosts ‘around 20% of Ecuador’s proven oil reserves’. (Russo, 2008) If this area is explored, it could greatly benefit the country’s economy, which has been weakened and drained by extensive and tiresome periods of tyranny and military regimes. At the same time, the country still has very high rates of corruption and locals, like Eduardo Asanza are arguing that there are no visible economic results from oil exploration. Despite an active on-going oil exploration campaign, which has been going on for several decades, the country still remains very poor. (Russo, 2008) This raises suspicions about the ‘noble’ intensions of the government and about who truly benefits from oil production in the country.
Despite the fact that Conoco’s oil drilling strategy is very eco-friendly and their environmental protection initiatives are very thoughtful, compared to other companies, I don’t think they should be allowed to explore in Block 16. In this kind of business, money and financial gains are always the priority, and despite how sophisticated the initial plan is, things don’t go according to it. Also, even if the ecological ‘footprint’ left by the drillers is small, it changes the area forever.
However, if the government were to allow oil drilling in Yasuni National Park, despite all protests, of course it would be better to give this right to Conoco, because compared to their competitors their strategy is indeed the least harmful. Ideally, though, as a supporter of alternative energy, I am against oil drilling, and especially oil exploration in fragile natural environments. If it was up to me, I would abandon oil exploration, period. However, as a realist, I realize that this is impossible at the moment, so it is probably best to choose the least of two evils.
- Russo, M. (2008). Environmental Management: Readings and Cases. SAGE Publications, Inc.