Mexico
Pemex

Control of oil behind Mexico-Spain tensions

Mexico’s President Andr茅s Manuel L贸pez Obrador聽called for a “pause” in relations with Spain, in a speech that explicitly invoked the legacy of colonialism going back to the Conquest. But the speech was aimed principally at Spanish oil company Repsol, which had been favored during the presidential term of Felipe Calder贸n. Specifically, L贸pez Obrador questioned the granting of聽gas contracts in the Burgos Basin, in Mexico’s northeast. He charged that Repsol operated the fields less productively than the state company Pemex had. “In the end, less gas was extracted than Pemex extracted” before the contracts, he charged. Repsol is meanwhile under investigation by Spanish prosecutors on charges of graft related to the company’s efforts to fend聽off a take-over bid by Pemex.聽(Photo via Digital Journal)

The Amazon
OCP

Pipeline rupture in Ecuador’s Amazon fouls river

Ecuador’s trans-Andean Heavy Crude Pipeline (OCP) ruptured amid heavy rains, spilling oil into a sensitive area of Napo province and contaminating several rivers draining into the Amazon Basin, including the Napo, Piedra Fina, Quijos and, most seriously, the Coca. The contamination also penetrated Cayambe-Coca National Park. Pipeline operator OCP Ecuador didn’t announce that it had stopped pumping through the stricken line until the following day, and at first denied that any waterways had been contaminated. This was repudiated in a statement from the Confederation of Amazonian Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONFENIAE), which cited reports from impacted Kichwa communities and tweeted a聽video showing crude polluting the Rio Coca. (Photo:聽Ecuador聽Ministry of Environment via EcoWatch)

The Andes
Playa Cavero

Peru demands Repsol pay in coastal oil spill

Peru’s authorities declared an environmental emergency聽after announcing that 21 beaches around the Lima area were contaminated by an oil spill at a refinery run by Spanish multinational Repsol, calling it the “worst ecological disaster” in the city’s history. The Environmental Evaluation & Control Organism (OEFA) estimated some 6,000 barrels of crude had spilled鈥攄ramatically above the mere seven gallons that Repsol had initially reported to authorities when the disaster occurred days earlier. Some 1,740,000 square meters of coastline and 1,1187,000 square meters of sea have been covered in sludge that has blackened beaches and killed marine life. Peru is demanding compensation from Repsol, accusing the company of trying to cover up the scale of the disaster and not having a contingency plan in place. (Photo: Andina)

Greater Middle East
Yemen

Looming oil spill off Yemen coast portends disaster

A prospective massive聽spill from an abandoned oil tanker in the Red Sea could lead to catastrophic public health effects in war-torn Yemen and neighboring countries unless urgent action is taken, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The FSO Safer is one of the world鈥檚 largest tankers and is anchored off the port of Hodeidah, a key lifeline for aid supplies to much of Yemen鈥檚 population. It holds 1.1 million barrels of oil鈥攎ore than four times the amount spilled in 1989 by the Exxon Valdez. Abandoned since 2015 due to the conflict in Yemen, the dilapidated vessel is increasingly likely to leak oil due to deterioration of its hull, or to catch fire through the build-up of volatile gases or through a direct attack. (Map:聽Perry-Casta帽eda Library)

The Amazon
awajun

Peru: indigenous protesters shut down pipeline

On the sixth day of a declared civil strike (paro) in Peru’s Amazon rainforest, hundreds of indigenous protesters armed with spears seized oil installations, effectively shutting down the NorPeruano Pipeline. Station 5 on the pipeline, as well as oil exploitation blocs 192, 95 and 8, are under occupation. State company PetroPer煤 admitted that personnel have been evacuated from the pumping station, and that seizure of the installation has “paralyzed the operations” of the pipeline. Awaj煤n apu (traditional leader) James P茅rez, speaking for the Indigenous Association for the Development & Conservation of the Bajo Yurimaguas, said the paro will continue until the central government responds to protesters’ demands for environmental remediation following hundreds of oil spills.聽 (Photo via聽Gesti贸n)

Africa
niger delta flare

UK court approves Nigerian suit against Shell Oil

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom聽allowed a case filed by 42,335 Nigerian claimants against Shell Oil and a Nigerian subsidiary to proceed in the UK courts. The claimants first sued Shell and its subsidiary in 2015 over leaks from pipelines in the Niger Delta that resulted in the destruction of farmland, the death of fish stocks, and poisoned drinking water. They argued that the oil spills occurred due to the negligence of the subsidiary company responsible for operating the pipelines. They charged that Shell’s parent company owed them a “common law duty of care,” since it exercised significant control over the operations of the Nigerian subsidiary. (Photo:聽Wikimedia Commons)

The Amazon
peru oil spill

Hundreds of oil spills in Peru rainforest since 2000

Peru’s National Coordinator for Human Rights (CNDDHH) and Oxfam Peru have issued a report finding that there have been hundreds of oil spills linked to the NorPeruano Pipelineover the past 20 years. Entitled “La Sombra del Petr贸leo” (“The Shadow of Oil“), the report counted 474 oil spills in the Peruvian Amazon between 2000 and 2019, impacting at least 41 indigenous communities. These spills occurred along the NorPeruano Pipeline and in several associated oil blocs. The report also determined that 65% of these spills were caused by the corrosion of the pipeline and operational failures. “After every spill, it was said that the responsibility was with the indigenous communities, but there was no evidence that this was the case,” said Miguel L茅vano, coordinator of a CNDDHH subcommittee on oil spills. “It did not make sense, since they are the people being affected.”聽(Image via Oxfam Peru)

East Asia
Kamchatka

Mysterious ‘ecological catastrophe’ in Kamchatka

Fears are mounting over an environmental disaster of still unknown origin in Russia’s Far East after residents reported dozens of dead sea animals washed onto a beach from the Pacific. Greenpeace Russia said tests conducted on water samples taken from Khalaktyrsky beach in Kamchatka krai showed petroleum levels four times higher than usual, and phenol levels 2.5 times higher. “The scale of the contamination has not yet been determined, but the fact that dead animals are found all along the coast confirms the seriousness of the situation,” the organization said in a statement, warning of an “ecological catastrophe.” Residents who used local beaches also complained of vomiting, fever and聽rashes.聽Krai authorities have launched an investigation.聽Some scientists suggest聽that rocket fuel may have leaked into the sea from the military’s Radygino firing range, which is six miles from the seashore and was used for missile tests as recently as August. (Photo: Einar Fredriksen via WikiTravel)

Africa
Wakashio

Mauritians take to street over oil spill

Thousands of people demonstrated in Mauritius over the government’s handling of a shipwreck that spilled 1,000 tons of oil into the seas around the island nation. In what appears to be a toll of the incident, several dolphins and whales have beached close to where the Japanese-owned MV Wakashio freighter ran aground and broke up. Social media is awash with photos of the stranded dying animals, including mothers and calves鈥攚hile the minister of聽marine resources聽dismissed the beachings as a “sad coincidence.” Disaffection has swelled in the aftermath of the spill. Protesters in the streets of the capital, Port Louis, wielded an inflatable dolphin with “INACTION” written on it. (Photo:聽Greenpeace Africa via Mongabay)

Planet Watch
NORILSK

Russia: state of emergency after Arctic oil spill

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a state of emergency after 20,000 tons of diesel oil leaked into a river within the Arctic Circle. The spill went unreported for two days, which may have caused irreparable damage to the ecologically fragile region. The spill was caused by rupture of a fuel tank at a power plant run by Nornickel, the world’s leading nickel and palladium producer. The Russian government has launched a criminal case over the pollution and alleged negligence. The spill has caused large portions of the Ambarnaya River to turn a dark crimson, and is believed to be the second-largest in Russian history. An area of at least 350 square kilometers has been contaminated. (Photo: Russian Civil Defense via TASS)

The Amazon

Peru: more indigenous protests over oil spills

A new rupture on the disaster-plagued North Peruvian Pipeline fouled local water sources that several indigenous communities depend on in Peru’s rainforest region of Loreto. The聽communities of Nuevo Progreso and Saramiriza are demanding emergency potable water deliveries.聽The rupture came days after indigenous protesters occupied the Bloc 192 oil-field, halting operations by Canadian company Frontera Energy. Protesters seized four tank batteries at the installation to press their demands for clean-up and reparations following the numerous spills in the area.聽(Photo: PetroPeru via Gesti贸n)

The Amazon

Peru: butcher of Bagua goes out by his own hand

The ongoing political crisis in Peru reached a grisly climax with the suicide of ex-president Alan Garc铆a as he was being arrested over his suspected involvement in corruption surrounding troubled Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht. Garc铆a’s last presidency was most significantly marked by Peru’s entrance into the Free Trade Agreement with Washington, and harsh repression against the indigenous protest wave that this set off. This repression was notoriously聽punctuated by the Bagua massacre of June 2009, when National Police troops attacked an indigenous roadblock鈥攌nown as the “Amazon’s Tiananmen Square Massacre.” The grievances that animated the 2009 protests are still very much alive鈥攁nd sparking renewed militant action by indigenous Amazonians. (Photo: La Mula)