Comuna of Agua Blanca against the poly-oil pipe, Ecuador.


In 1990 the Ecuadorian government, through its oil company PETROECUADOR, announced its intention to construct a pipeline that had to traverse the Machalilla National Park (MNP) on the Ecuadorian coast, despite it being illegal. The project ignited strong opposition from one of the Comunas within the MNP, named Agua Blanca. The inhabitants of this Comuna, whose presence in the area preceds the declaration of the area as a national park (1979), have traditionally based their subsistence in the exploitation of the forest resources of the area. With the demarcation as a national park, these activities were forbidden. This obliged them to adopt more sustainable economic practices such as eco-tourism. Upon great efforts Agua Blanca managed to consolidate the touristic activity as one of their main sources of income. Thus, they considered the pipeline project as a threat to this. Above all, they feared that the trajectory of the pipeline would destroy diverse pre-columbine archaeological remains, which were key to their touristic activity. In this sense, the Communa tried to have a bearing on the final tracing of the pipeline in order to mitigate potential damages.

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Basic Data
NameComuna of Agua Blanca against the poly-oil pipe, Ecuador.
SiteAgua Blanca
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific Commodities
Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date1990
Company Names or State EnterprisesPetroecuador from Ecuador
Relevant government actorsThe Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, The Ecuadorian National Institute for Forests, Nature and Wildlife (currently is the Ministry of Environment)., National Congress Environment Commission
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersFundacion Natura (Guayaquil), Voluntariado Aleman
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of alternative proposals
Objections to the EIA
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Soil contamination, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
OtherLoss of archaeological sites
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseNegotiated alternative solution
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The Commune managed to save 8 archaeological sites that would have been destroyed. However, the poly-oil pipe crosses the NPM with oil and the risks that entails.
Sources and Materials

Ley Forestal y Conservacion de areas Silvestres (Forestry and Conservation of Natural Areas and Wildlife Law)


Varea, Anamara, Carmen Barrera, Ana mara Maldonado, Lourdes Endara, Byron real, Victoria Reyes, Guillermo Robalino. 1997. Desarrollo Eco-ilgico. Conflictos socioambientales desde la selva hasta el mar. CEDEP/Abya-Yala

Meta Information
ContributorSara Latorre
Last update08/04/2014