Ecuador oil pollution case highlights Chevron’s annual corporate meeting in California; both sides claim the other side used illegal tactics

May 28, 2015 | 1 comment

Chevron Oil was forced to ward off a litany of accusations of environmental damage and corporate malfeasance during its annual meeting Wednesday in San Ramon.

Adam Zuckerman of Amazon Watch leads the protest Wednesday against Chevron Oil in Ecuador oil pollution case.

Adam Zuckerman of Amazon Watch leads the protest Wednesday against Chevron Oil in Ecuador oil pollution case.

Protestors holding an array of signs greeted people arriving at company headquarters in San Ramon for the annual meeting of Chevron shareholders Wednesday.

During the annual meeting, people skeptical about Chevron raised questions about the company’s track record regarding oil pollution in the rain forest of Ecuador, a gas explosion off the coast of Nigeria, hydro-fracking in the United States, cost overruns in its liquefied natural gas field in western Australia, its ties to a dictatorship in Myanmar, its connections to the Taliban in the Middle East and its attempts to influence a city council election in Richmond, where Chevron operates a giant oil refinery.

The most contentious issue during the meeting was linked to oil pollution in the Amazon jungle region of Ecuador.

“It saddens me greatly that the people of Ecuador continue to be used by trial attorneys in the United States,” Chevron chief executive officer John Watson said in response to a question during the shareholders meeting.

In 2011, a court in Ecuador ordered Chevron to pay $18 billion. In 2014, a U.S. federal court ruled that the attorney for the plaintiffs had used “corrupt means” to obtain the 2011 court verdict.

“An elaborate fraud has been perpetrated” to tarnish Chevron’s activities in the Amazon rain forest, Watson said.

Texaco operated a large oil field in Ecuador and Chevron assumed the Texaco responsibilities when Chevron bought Texaco in 2000.

The status of the case became more complicated recently, when newly released documents gave details of Chevron’s relationship with its key witness who had received almost $2 million from the oil company for testimony.

“The pollution is a serious open sore that no one has cured,” Humberto Piaguage, a resident of Ecuador, said during the annual meeting in comments director at Watson. “Chevron lost in the courts and then ran away. You claim fraud? The only fraud is yours.”

Credit: San Jose Mercury,