Abstract

In 2005, EnCana decided to focus its business in North America and to exit Ecuador. In light of this, the Company implemented a proposed strategy to provide an environmental and social legacy to its hosting country, specifically to its Yasuni National Park (YNP). The strategy added permanent value and high-impact to existing conservation efforts led by the Ecuadorian authorities. EnCana operated in Ecuador from late 1999 to early 2006. The Company was responsible of developing Blocks 14 and 17 inside YNP, both concessions highly sensitive in social and environmental terms. YNP is a UNESCO biosphere reserve since 1989.

Considering UNESCO's objectives for biosphere reserves are “…to conserve natural ecosystems, to provide protective legislation, in situ conservation, encourage regional planning and rural development, encourage local participation in land use and environmental education” three key projects were identified for executing this legacy:

  1. Replacing high-risk aerial flow lines by sub fluvial crossing under Tiputini River;

  2. Relocating the YNP Park Ranger Station;

  3. Building two forestry control facilities.

Some petroleum companies operating in the Ecuadorian Amazon Basin conducted multiple development activities adjacent to YNP since the 1980s without considering environmental impacts related to above-ground flow lines. Activities such as the illegal exploitation of timber as result of the expansion of the oil frontier by constructing new access roads to remote locations had a detrimental impact on the YNP. Applying state-of-the-art directional drilling, an underground river crossing was built in 2006 and all above ground flow lines, even those attached to an existing road-bridge, were decommissioned, dismantled and placed inside the crossing, which is operating up-to-date without incidents.

On the control side, the Ecuadorian Government's illegal forestry control effectiveness was dramatically improved in the area by having its most relevant facility relocated and two new facilities built. These facilities were made available to them when the Company partnered with the Ministry of Environment and an associated Trust Fund.

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