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Dear Tena Diary followers,

My name is Emily Howland and I will be blogging from Tena on Ivanhoe’s activity here in the Napo Province of Ecuador. I am a volunteer for Amazon Watch, a U.S.-based non-profit that works
to protect the rainforest and further the rights of indigenous communities of
the Amazon. You can learn more about our work at

Since arriving in Tena I have attended a community government meeting and a workshop to teach indigenous political leaders about the constitution’s environmental laws in Ecuador. Ecuador
is the only country in the world whose constitution give rights to nature. I’ve
talked to locals and tried to sort through the rumors flying around town about

Tena is a beautiful Amazonian town known for its ecotourism, organic cacao growing and the Kichwa language and culture. Illegal oil and gold mining projects have sprouted up like weeds along
the riverbanks. The government is supposedly handing out mining permits without
respecting the laws of the UNESCO Sumaco Biosphere Reserve, which protects the
rainforest in the provinces of Napo, Orellana and Sucumbíos province.
Communities have been divided between those who support the companies and those
who want to conserve the land. Those who are on the conservation side are
deeply concerned about Ivanhoe’s potential to completely alter the way of life
here. “Not yet” is always the response when I ask someone if there is visible
contamination in the river. “Not yet.” 

            My “Tena Diaries” will document developments in the Ivanhoe case as we try to uncover the facts about the Pungarayacu project in Ecuador regarding these
issues and others: 

·      Is Ivanhoe complying with its Environmental Impact Study?

·      Are they socializing the project to work with the surrounding communities and compensating these communities for occupying
their land?

·      Does the company have the capital to complete the project?

            Finding the answers involves talking to many people on different parts of the food chain—NGOs in the region, civil authorities in communities, government
officials, business owners, and townspeople. Many times I get conflicting
responses to questions like “When is Ivanhoe building its second well?” or “How
many wells is Ivanhoe planning to build in the three-year testing phase?”
Perhaps confusion and lack of transparency is part of Ivanhoe’s tactic to avoid
resistance to their project.

The purpose of this blog is to give names to the “Faces of Ivanhoe”— the people, places and things that live and breathe the Pungarayacu project. Some may be adamantly against the Ivanhoe
project and others might work for Ivanhoe. And in some cases you never know
what side they’re on. I’ll share my interactions, interviews, research and
impressions to report the very latest activity from Tena.

My hope is that “Tena Diaries” followers will be a force of informed people who can help get the word out. We are all at risk here. Climate change is showing us that we simply won’t survive
if we continue to destroy our natural resources. Yet somehow corporate Goliaths
like Ivanhoe still see the rainforest as a disposable resource.

Ecuador holds a special place in my heart—my semester abroad in Quito during my junior year of college changed my life. That semester taught me the immense value of speaking a second language
to connect to people and places far removed from my home in San Francisco, CA.
Last May I received a B.A. in English Literature and Hispanic Studies from
Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. I returned to Quito in October and joined
Amazon Watch in Tena in January.

I look forward to getting your feedback on my blogs and using the “Tena Diaries” forum as a resource for my work. Please visit the Amazon Watch website to see how you can contribute to
conserving the Amazon rainforest!

Thanks for your interest and concern,

Emily Howland      




Views: 104

Replies to This Discussion


Like you I have even more direct ties to Ecuador, and an interest in what goes on the affects the ecological environment of this country.

I was married to an Ecuadorian for 39 years until just recently, and still have family in Quito. We are still friends and I still consider the mountains of Ecuador my mountains.

I would be very interested in knowing more about perhaps getting directly involved with Amazon Watch. I will follow the link you provided, but hope to get more direct info from you. I am in a position that I could move to Ecuador with my S.S. retirement, and this may be a good reason. I lived in Quito with my own business for 10 years and speak Spanish like a native...really.

I look forward to your posts. Feel free to contact me directly at
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and investing time and effort.
I think you can make an even bigger impact if you manage to take photos and videos of what's going on there. Your photos or videos may become viral hopefully...
Let me tweet about it and good luck.

It occurs to me to ask since you are a volunteer with AW, how are you supporting yourself?

Your work is inspiring. I will try to raise awareness in Utah by donating all the proceeds of our next all our spring and summer chocolate classes to Amazon Watch. I will prepare a press release. We have a very high profile in Utah and this should help get the word out. I will contact someone at Amazon Watch to see how to create and execute this relationship.

Please keep us updated and if there is anything we can do beyond raising awareness.

Matt Caputo
Thanks so much for spreading the word and fund raising. You may have already contacted Amazon Watch but here is the contact of the development director: Perhaps you could inquire if donations can be directed to a certain cause so that the money would go directly to the Ivanhoe campaign. Let me know what she says!
Emily: I am one of the many faces of Ivanhoe Energy. As a private investor, I have a financial interest as a stockholder in the company and also have an interest in the ecological responsibilites that the company must adhere to in developing the Pungarayacu Field.

I have been in contact with Clay regarding some factual misstatements regarding his initial blog on Invanhoe Energy with regard to strip mining - He encouraged me to address this group. I believe Clay is confussing Ivanhoe Energy with Ivanhoe Mining. Ivanhoe Energy will be utilizing SAGD steam injection along with its ecoglogically friendly HTL technology to economically develop the field. Strip mining is not used in any fashion in this field development and I would encourage you and anyone else interested in Ivanhoe's project to visit their website to better learn the process Ivanhoe has planned for the Pungarayacu Field.

As I told Clay, it is not my intention to 'stir the pot' on this website. I am truely interested in your 'eyes on the ground' and look forward to your post and opinions. I am sure we will not agree in many areas but I think we can help each other understand what Ivanhoe Energy has planned for the Pungarayacu Field and if Ivanhoe is being the responsible corporate citizen they profess to be.

As to a couple of your questions, Ivanhoe Energy does not have the required financial assets to totally develop this field. From previous news releases, they are actively negotiating with several international oil companies to joint venture this project. Regarding your question as to the number of wells planned to evaluate the field, I believe is is in the range of 20 - 23 wells.

I would encourage you and anyone interested in this project to spend some time on Ivanhoe's website and specifically focus in on their HTL technology. This is the technology that allows Ivanhoe to economically produce this field, unlocking one of Ecuador's (and Latin America's) most valuable assets. In the process, Ivanhoe will be providing educational, health and infrastructure needs to the indigenious people of the area along with much needed revenue to the Ecuadorian government. Ivanhoe's contract with Ecuador is a service contract which provides Ivanhoe a fixed income per barrel with the majority of the revenue going to the people of Ecuador. From Ecuador's and Ivanhoe Energy's perspective, it is a win-win situation and a unique contract which other countries wish to replicate.

Thanks for your eyes on the ground perspective. I look forword to your updates on how Ivanhoe is meeting its corporate responsiblilties.


Part of my understanding is that some of the oil assets involved are in deposits akin to shale oil. AFAIK, you have to surface mine shale oil deposits, you can't pump oil out of them. If that is not correct then I misunderstood what I was being told, in which case I will be happy to admit that I misspoke.

Concerns that I have that are not addressed anywhere that I can see are:

a) How is the heavy stock transported from the wells to the HTL facility?
b) How is the finished product transported from the HTL facility to the market?

It's not just the wells and it's not just the HTL facility, it's the entire ecosystem of development that needs to be considered - and the effect the development will have on the areas in and through which the development is in place and extends.

Again, based on my first-hand experience in visits to Coca and Shell, I am not optimistic that the plans for Block 20 address the interests and needs to the communities and ecosystems in Ecuador that will be affected - and I am sure that the peoples whose lives will be affected will see nowhere near the benefit that investors like yourselves will see.

It's not about how cool the HTL technology is, or whether it's comparatively less invasive than other techniques. It's about how the interests of the people whose lives will be directly affected by the development are protected - and those interests include preservation of their local environment.

The vast majority of the benefit will be distributed to people who live thousands of miles from Block 20. While token amounts may be delivered to the people in the region, the ugly history of the distribution of such aid says that money alone is not an answer, in fact, in the long run it may do more harm than good. In other words - it's not equitable.

I don't expect you to be unbiased in your assessment as you've indicated that you are an investor in Ivanhoe - having read their web site thoroughly, I have my doubts about the way the technology will be implemented in the field. You've made statements about how the lives of people in Ecuador will be improved. It's on your head to prove your case, not on mine to prove you're wrong; although the weight of history is on my side.

:: Clay

What started my interaction with this group was an attempt to correct some factual misstatement and questions surrounding the Ivanhoe project. From your above two questions, its apparent that you haven’t yet taken the time to try to educate yourself to what Ivanhoe proposes for the Pungarayacu. It amazes me that the people of this group seem to have enormous concerns about this project yet will not invest the time or take the initiative to educate themselves. Doing so would allow themselves a better perspective as to what to expect with regard to Ivanhoe’s development of the Pungarayacu Field.

I understand your concerns with the effects this undertaking might have on the ecology and its indigenous population. Some changes will be for the better and some depending on one's perspective could be for the worse. Rather than challenge me on how to prove to this group that Ivanhoe's development over the next three to five years will serve the people better than a Shell project which happened some 30 years ago, why don't you challenge this group to educate themselves on the specifics of this project so that they can better monitor its progress and understand the different phases as they occur. Why not look into the service contract between Ecuador and Ivanhoe and try to understand the obligations that each party brings to the table. Look at the revenue flow to be generated off of the estimated 120,000 bpd and judge for yourself whether that revenue which flows, mostly to Ecuadorian government, is worth the changes the Pungarayacu will provide. I get the feeling that many here, through a selfish and egotistical viewpoint, would just as soon deprive the indigenous population of any chance at improved jobs, education, and health-care - don't allow any change at any cost seems to be the mindset. As someone said, they already have their tourist dollars - what else could they want?

I doubt that the Ecuadorian government is going to turn down the much needed $3 - $4 billion dollars a year in order to maintain the staus quo. Changes are inevitable and the best outcome will be assured by trying to mold and effect those changes for the benefit of the area and its people.

Once again I would suggest you take the initiative to educate yourself to this project :

Sending us to the home page of Ivanhoe does nothing to answer any of the questions people have about the impact of the project. It talks about HTL, not specifics of what is going on on the ground in Ecuador. Specific links that back up your points would be appreciated and make it easier to understand what you're saying.

While I understand your point about the past not being a predictor of the future, nothing about the way oil resources have been exploited in the Amazon gives anyone any confidence that this time will be any different. Actually, having joined the conversation in defense of Ivanhoe, it is up to you to prove that you are right. You claim that this time will be different. Why should anyone assume that the $3-4 billion that will go to the Ecuadorian government will be spent wisely or well? Again, history has taught everyone who does not stand to profit directly to be very skeptical. WHY will this time be different? How do you know?

Your offhand assertion in the next-to-last paragraph that the Ecuadorian government is not going to maintain the status quo is exactly the point everyone is trying to make.

I know you've been involved in the oil industry for many years. Have you personally been to Ecuador? As an investor in Ivanhoe, what have YOU PERSONALLY DONE to "try... to mold and effect those changes for the benefit of the area and its people?"

:: Clay
Thanks Clay. I addressed this same comment about going to Ecuador to Trey but I guess I wasn't important enough for him to direct his response directly to me. I find that interesting, but only interesting.

I've been there, seen the results, know how the government works, and so far Trey can not answer in the affirmative to any of those things. And as you say, there is NOTHING on the Ivanhoe website that does anything to even so much as guarantee responsible oversight of their contractors. It only states that contractors are required to operate with petroleum safe practices, but history suggests this is only as good as the person in charge in Ecuador, and how much "grease" it will take to just not see infractions.

The usual comeback there is they can't be responsible for the actions of local officials which then excuses them from any "governance" issues. Not their fault.

Unfortunately, this is SOP in just about any country outside the U.S., and especially in 3rd world cultures. It is looked upon as the cost of doing business.

I may receive some daggers for stating the truth, but it is what it is! Disguise it, camouflage it, paint it any color you want, it just is.

OK - Let me start with your two concerns:

“Concerns that I have that are not addressed anywhere that I can see are:”

a) How is the heavy stock transported from the wells to the HTL facility?
b) How is the finished product transported from the HTL facility to the market?

The HTL facility will sit on a small footprint somewhere centrally located on the Pungarayacu acreage. The SAGD production which Ivanhoe utilizes literally steams the oil out of the ground. Contrary to what you again suggested, the oil is not locked in shale deposits – its viscosity is that of heavy tar and is found in a heavy tar sand formation. Ivanhoe injects steam into this formation and melts the oil from around the sand particles of the formation which then, with the assistance of gravity, flows to a horizontal collection line located at the bottom boundary of the formation; it is then pumped to the surface and flows by an insulated line to the HTL facility. The HTL unit then quickly and efficiently converts this heavy tar like oil is into a lighter oil product which is capable of flowing in a pipeline.

How is the finished product transported? - Once the thick vicious oil has been converted by the HTL process, it will be introduced into the existing oil pipeline, which has been in place for years, and runs through the Pungarayacu field. From there the oil is moved to a terminal shipping port.

Having answered your two questions, are you really any closer to understanding what is planned for the field development. By referring you to Ivanhoe's website, all I am trying to get you to do is better educate yourself on what a SAGD development entails and how HTL fits into the equation. I would think that would be important if one is concerned with the development of this area - there is a world of difference between a strip mining project and what is actually planned.

I haven't personally been to Ecuador nor have I PERSONALLY DONE anything to try to mold and effect those changes for the benefit of the area and its people. I am in no way qualified to 'mold and effect' the changes this project will bring. You that live in the region are in a better position to mold, effect and report back what is actually happening on the ground which is what brought me to this site to begin with. All I am trying to do is provide you with the link to resources which might help you better understand what you are seeing and reporting about. I look forward to reading that perspective on this site.


Thanks for the clarification. A question in return:

1) How "small" is small footprint? Small compared with conventional operations, I guess but what does that actually mean with respect to a production facility, not the test facility in California.

While you may not personally be in a position to mold what's going on on the ground in Ecuador you are in a position (as a shareholder) to demand that the company comply with its environmental impact statement and to respect the issues that I and others have brought up.

Shareholder activism is alive and well - and therefore you ARE in a position to mold the outcome.

:: Clay


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