New satellite images show Ecuador drilling in Yasuni’s ITT | Video

The Yasuni’s ITT block is one of the world’s most controversial drill sites.


According to the website they have obtained a new, high-resolution satellite image of Petroamazona’s suspected pipeline and drilling platforms in the famed Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) block. Obtained from Planet, the image was analyzed by the team at the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) just after Ecuador announced it had begun drilling in arguably the most biodiverse place on the planet.

Satellite imagery shows a snaking pipeline amid dense green rainforest that ends in rectangles believed to be oil platforms.

With a resolution of three meters, the image shows a snaking pipeline amid the unbreakable green of the rainforest that ends in rectangles, which are believed to be oil platforms. The picture is especially important given a blackout on outside monitoring of the ITT drilling.

“The government has not allowed any independent monitoring by scientists, journalists, or civil society. The well site is militarized, and aerial flyovers and images are prohibited,” said Kevin Koenig, the Ecuador Program Director at Amazon Watch. “The lack of transparency and independent monitoring are contrarian to any credible due diligence process.”

The Ecuadorean government has claimed the new drilling will impact less than one percent of the Yasuni National Park. But critics contend that this doesn’t take into account any secondary impacts from oil drilling operations, including potentially new roads, infrastructure and an army of oil workers.

“It is well known that building roads into the interior of a national park comprised of rainforest with an abundance of rivers will inevitably lead to colonization, deforestation, game depletion and continuing degradation of the very things national parks are designed to protect,“ Adrian Forsyth, the director of Amazon Conservation Association, said.


Such destruction begins with oil workers infiltrating the region, according to Kelly Swing, the director of the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in Yasuni.

“[The workers] are shown tremendous concentrations of previously unexploited wild game. Subsequently, after they finish their temporary work assignments with oil crews, many come back as hunters.”

Swing added that such activities were “effectively subsidized by oil companies.”

This story has been repeated throughout Yasuni, since vast areas of the park have been exploited for oil development since the 1970s. Oil-exploited areas have gone on to be infiltrated by the usual crews of poachers, illegal loggers and colonizers and have often faced near-constant oil spills.

Perhaps the most damning criticism of the oil operations is that it further infringes on land held by indigenous tribes that have chosen to remain isolated from the outside world.

Deep in Yasuni live the Tagaeri and Taromenane tribes, a part of the larger Waorani indigenous groups. The Tagaeri and Taromenane tribes only remaining uncontacted indigenous groups in Ecuador. The isolated groups have met outsides with violence, including spearing illegal loggers and other Waorani to death.

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