New Investigation Reveals California Fueling Amazon Oil Drilling
December 2, 2021
Stand.earth, Amazon Watch Research Tracks Amazon Oil from rainforest to United States
(Unceded Ancestral Ramaytush Ohlone Territory / SAN FRANCISCO, CA) — Today, Stand.earth and Amazon Watch are releasing Linked Fates, a groundbreaking investigative report that tracks crude oil from the Western Amazon to the United States. The report reveals, for the first time, that California refineries, businesses, and consumers play an outsized role in using oil from one of the most biodiverse regions in the Amazon Basin. Linked Fates shows in detail how California converts 50% of the Amazon oil exported globally into fuel for airports such as LAX, distributors such as Amazon.com, trucking fleets such as PepsiCo., and retail gas giants such as COSTCO. The refined fuel comes from controversial oil extracted in the Amazon, where new oil drilling is linked to the violation of Indigenous rights, deforestation, biodiversity loss, pollution, increased fires in the Amazon from road building and also contributes to climate change.
The full report can be found here.
This Linked Fates research reveals that 89% of the crude oil exported from the Amazon comes from Ecuador. 66% of that goes to the U.S. Despite its progressive image and leaders, this research shows California consumes more oil from the Amazon than any other region in the world. In fact, 1 in 9 gallons pumped on average in California comes from the Amazon, and in Southern California, the average is 1 in 7 gallons.
This research comes at a crucial time for Amazon. Ecuador’s President, Guillermo Lasso, recently announced plans to double the country’s oil production and to auction in 2022 nearly 7 million acres (~3 million hectares) of mostly intact rainforest for new oil exploration. Linked Fates shows how the majority of this oil from ecologically fragile and culturally sensitive areas would go to California.
This research comes on the heels of three reports earlier this year, from the International Energy Agency, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Production Gap report that all show there is no room for expansion of oil and gas under net-zero Paris aligned pathways. California and 10 other countries and subnationals joined the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance at COP26 announcing their commitment to end the expansion of oil and gas production and to wind down both production and emissions by 2050.
Marathon, Chevron, and Valero — all in California — are the top 3 refiners of oil from the Amazon. Of the Amazon crude that goes to the U.S., 27% goes to Marathon, 22% goes to Valero, and 17% goes to Chevron. Chevron’s role is particularly notable since the company is connected to some of the oil industry’s worst impacts in the Amazon, as well as in California. Chevron has spent nearly $2 billion fighting its court-ordered mandate to pay $9.5 billion in clean-up and community reparations costs that it is responsible for in Ecuador.
Todd Paglia, Stand.earth Executive Director:, said:
“There’s an alarming gap between what wealthy nations are saying and what they are doing. You would expect these five nations to provide the leadership needed to move the global economy away from fossil fuels and reduce emissions to zero. However, they seem to be quite content to make pledges and promises with one hand, while expanding and subsidising fossil fuel production to the tune of billions on the other.
Gregorio Mirabal, Executive Coordinator of the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA): said:
“The Amazonian territories and ecosystems that we have lived in harmony with for centuries are under dire threat. We are at a tipping point. It’s now or never. We need to ensure the protection of 80% of the Amazon rainforest before 2025 or we risk planetary peril. No one knows how to better protect these forests than we do, and the world should support and follow our lead.”
Marlon Vargas, President of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE): said:
“Our basic right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) continues to be violated by oil drilling projects, as is our right to a healthy environment, Indigenous autonomy, and the rights of nature, all of which are guaranteed by our constitution. There is no current drilling that complies with UN standards on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We are adamantly opposed to new oil extraction. And when we raise our voices and exert our rights, we are criminalized, persecuted, and are threatened.”
Nemo Andy Guiquita, Waorani Indigenous leader of Women and Health of CONFENIAE, said:
“Oil extraction in our Ecuadorian Amazon has brought pollution, diseases, deforestation, destruction of our cultures and the colonization of our territories. It is an existential threat to us, and it violates our fundamental rights as Indigenous peoples. We call for an end to all new extractions in our territories and, as our ancestors and now science claim, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground, in accordance with the commitments of the Paris Agreement and COP26 in Glasgow. “
Kevin Koenig, Climate and Energy Director, Amazon Watch:, said:
“California’s continued consumption of Amazon crude is a commitment to climate chaos. Drilling for more fossil fuels underneath standing tropical forests is a recipe for disaster for the planet and Amazonian Indigenous peoples. From the frontlines of extraction in the Amazon to the fenceline refinery communities in California, Amazon crude is a toxic commodity. The golden state, and global companies, should abide by the golden rule, and end imports of Amazon crude.”
Matt Krogh, Stand.earth
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