Travel Writer Paul Theroux Visits Ecuador's Oil Towns
22 July 2005
WASHINGTON, July 22 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- Famed travel writer Paul Theroux talked with HalliburtonWatch about his travels through the oil towns of Ecuador, where Halliburton has done business for years. What he found was a land and people destroyed by oil profits and extreme poverty. ###
Halliburton does $1 billion in energy business in Latin America each year and recently boasted to investors about signing new contracts in Ecuador.
Houston-based Halliburton Energy Services has an office in Quito, Ecuador, and sells oil drilling platforms and energy services to multinational companies operating in the country, including ChevronTexaco (now "Chevron"), Occidental Petroleum, Arco (part of BP), Maxus Energy Corporation, and Petroecuador.
Click here for an oil map of Ecuador.
Environmental and human rights groups blame these oil companies for ravaging the land through deforestation and walking away with big oil profits while the local population is left in abject poverty.
HalliburtonWatch asked Mr. Theroux about his observations during his travels through Ecuador:
HW: We understand that you traveled recently to Ecuador to do some work for your new novel, Blinding Light. Can you tell us a little bit about why you were there and where you went?
THEROUX: I was in the Oriente Province, visiting the Secoya people on the Aguarico River, and started in the oil town of Lago Agrio which is an ecological and social catastrophe: spilled oil, brothels, gun running, deforestation, poverty and displaced people, all thanks to Occidental Petroleum and the efforts of Halliburton to exploit the oil and damage the ecosystem. The towns to look at are Shushufindi and Lago Agrio, and inland on the Rio Aguarico.
HW: How did you run across Halliburton's operations in Ecuador?
THEROUX: By accident; but of course the ravages are unmistakable. This was in 2000 and 2001. An Ecuador-based environmentalist named Manuel Pallares took me on what he called his "Toxic Tour." He may still be accessible but I have no contact numbers for him. A good guy.
HW: What were your impressions of the company's operations and its
impacts on that region?
THEROUX: Devastating on people, on animals, on a whole way of life. The Indians (so called) get a pittance - they are promised (say) $400,000 but are given $100,000 as a sort of gift and never see the rest. They do not own what is under the ground - that is the property of the Ecuadorian gov't which makes the deals with Occidental and Halliburton. As there is no EPA in Ecuador, there are oil spills everywhere and leaky pipes along the roads. As far as I know nothing has been written about this region, which is east of Lago Agrio.