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Big Oil Held Liable

In Ecuador, big oil company Texaco, now owned by Chevron, has polluted the nature over many decades with no regard whatsoever towards the health of local citizens, many of whom Joe Berlinger receiving International Green Film Award for Crudedied, and the environment. Chevron has been indicted in several subsequent court cases but to little effect. In the past few weeks this has changed: first, Ecuador confiscated 220 million US dollars of Chevron assets in-country; then Brazil prevented 17 oil company managers from leaving the country while court cases for on-going oil pollution were opened; and finally, Argentina has seized last week around 2 billion USD worth of Chevron’s assets in the country.

The asset seizures follow a previous ruling by an Ecuadorian court that found the company responsible for polluting the Ecuadorian Amazon with environmentally hazardous drilling waste, causing widespread illness and destruction of nature. Chevron had transferred the case many years ago from US courts to Ecuador, but now does not accept the legitimacy of the court ruling to pay 19 billion USD in damages.

The plaintiffs are seeking to seize the company’s assets internationally, also in Canada and Brazil, because Chevron does not have a lot of investments in Ecuador and could thus escape paying damages in-country. The case revolves around the decades-long misconduct of the oil company Texaco, now owned by Chevron, as it ruthlessly dumped chemical waste that was produced while drilling oil.

In October Chevron had to pay a 17 million dollar fine for oil-industry regulators in Brazil for a 155 000 gallon crude oil spill that happened in November 2011. Local courts also ordered Chevron and Transocean to halt operations in the country due to the spill. Both companies still face civil and criminal lawsuits brought by a federal prosecutor.

These efforts to hold oil companies responsible for environmental damage might reveal the real costs of oil and lead to a change by using renewable energies as a push into a new era of clean energy.

We invite you to watch the following films on the misdeeds of oil giants:

  • CRUDE presents the legal battle and the environmental and human rights activism against Chevron, and it won the Cinema for Peace International Green Film Award 2010. The film is a real-life high stakes legal drama set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures. Cinema for Peace Foundation campaigned to support protecting first amendment rights when a U.S. court ruled that the filmmaker should reveal all of the raw footage gathered during the shooting of the film, thus potentially placing sources in danger. A support petition was published in the International Herald Tribune, and finally the court changed its decision.
  • SWEET CRUDE tells the story of Nigeria’s Niger Delta. In a small corner of the most populous country in Africa, billions of dollars of crude oil flow under the feet of a desperate people. Immense wealth and abject poverty stand in stark contrast. The environment is destroyed. The issues are complex, the answers elusive.
  • BLACK WAVE: The Legacy of Exxon Valdez tells the story of the supertanker that ran aground in Alaska, discharging millions of gallons of crude oil into the sea in the biggest environmental catastrophe in North American history.
  • DELTA BOYS explores the untold stories of the Niger Delta militancy – rebels who band together in the face of corrupt government oppression in this oil-rich region of Nigeria.



"Crude" by Joe Berlinger, Cinema for Peace International Green Film Award 2010

"Delta Boys" by Andrew Berends


"Sweet Crude" by Sandy Cioffi

"Black Wave" by Robert Cornelier