20 February 2014
Ecuador negotiated oil deal with Chinese bank in spite of commitment to protect Yasuni national park
The Guardian reports that Ecuador pursued a secret 1 billion US dollar deal with a Chinese bank to extract oil from under the Yasuni national park in the Amazon, while at the same time committing to a high-profile project to keep the ITT oil in the ground in exchange for international donations. The government of Ecuador abandoned the Yasuni-ITT Initiative last year, but according to a former ambassador of the initiative, Atossa Soltani, from NGO Amazon Watch, the negotiations with China raise doubts about whether Ecuador was ever truly committed to the plan to protect the Amazon.
An Ecuadorian government document, titled China Development Bank Credit Proposal, clarifies that the oil fields are meant to be explored by two state-run Chinese firms. Ecuador’s president Correa stated that Ecuador abandoned the Yasuni-ITT initiative due to a lack of donations – over 2 million US dollar in the government trust and slightly less than 10 million US dollar in a trust established and administered by the UN Development Programme, in spite of a final target of 3.6 billion US dollar. Others blame Ecuador’s relationship with China and pressure from the country’s oil sector, in which Chinese companies have a near monopoly.