James Craig is a spokesman for the US oil company Chevron and argues that if the plaintiffs succeed in executing the Lago Agrio ruling in any country, Ecuador must compensate Chevron.
Does the ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal of The Hague includes all the issues that you were looking for?
We are very pleased with the decision of the court, which is of great international prestige. The award gives Chevron extensive forms of relief and even monetary compensation that will be determined during the quantification phase.
What is next for you in the process?
Ecuador has announced that it will request a clarification and then go to the Court of the Netherlands to seek the nullity of the ruling, but that is a different process to arbitration, which continues. The arbitral tribunal ordered to present in 90 days the estimates of the compensation that Ecuador would have to pay us.
What does this amount include?
Chevron will seek to recover all costs and damages it has suffered by combating and uncovering the fraud of the Lago Agrio Court, and litigating against its exportation to other jurisdictions.
How much do we talk about?
I still cannot give a figure, but we are certainly talking about the order of hundreds of millions of dollars.
What happens if the plaintiffs insist on wanting to collect the USD 9,500 million determined by the Lago Agrio Court against Chevron?
If they manage to execute that judgment in any country, the amounts will be reverted to the State, which would have to compensate Chevron for those damages. The arbitrators determined that the Lago Agrio ruling is the product of fraud and corruption in Ecuadorian justice and that due process was violated, which represents a denial of justice. Therefore, from the perspective of International Law, the Lago Agrio ruling is illegitimate and unenforceable in any country.
How can the Hague provision be complied with if there is independence of powers in the country?
The court does not annul the judgment of Lago Agrio. The court orders Ecuador to take all necessary measures to erase the effects of the judgment and report the fraudulent Lago Agrio ruling and alert the courts of the countries where the plaintiffs’ lawyers would try to enforce the judgment. But, with this, according to the plaintiffs and the State, the human rights of the populations, who have warned that they will go to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, would be affected. The case of Lago Agrio is for environmental repair.
The Arbitral Tribunal and the Court of New York have determined that the judgment of that case against Chevron is the product of a series of unlawful acts, so we are not talking about a case of human rights, but fraud.
Is Chevron still resisting the claims of residents who denounce that Texaco, which was later acquired by you, did not make a correct remediation?
Chevron never operated in Ecuador. Texaco was operator of a consortium, together with the State, between 1970 and 1992. That year the state oil company took control of the operations and Texaco, which was a minority partner, had to reach an agreement to leave the country. Texaco had 37.5% of that consortium. It was determined that there was no environmental disaster, but normal impacts related to the activity. And the remediation tasks were divided between Texaco and the state based on their participation in the consortium. Texaco did the remediation of its 37.5% of operations and representatives of the Government of the time reviewed and certified the tasks as finished. In 1998, the Government and Petroecuador signed a final act that freed Texaco of future environmental claims. Who did not do his part of remediation was the state Petroecuador. (I)