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Tena Diaries

Tena Diaries is a vehicle to focus international awareness and attention on development in the region.

Location: Worldwide
Members: 38
Latest Activity: Nov 12, 2013

The Purpose of this Group ...

... is to provide insight into some developments going on in the Tena region of Ecuador. In the province of Napo, Tena is ESE and not too far from Quito and is the largest town near the Kallari community.

Also not far from Tena and the Kallari, Ivanhoe, a Canadian oil company, has leased rights from the Ecuadorian government to prospect for oil. The form of oil that is found in the area (called heavy oil, in oil sands) does not lend itself to conventional drilling, instead, a technique called SAGD (steam assisted gravity drainage) will be used in conjunction with Ivanhoe's proprietary HTL (heavy to light) technology which is supposed to minimize potential environmental damage. SAGD uses very large quantities of water and there are concerns about what will happen when the water is drained from local water supplies and the potential (though probably small, accidents do happen) for contamination.

The consequences of unrestrained exploitation of oil in the region have been shown to be devastating not only to Ecuador's Amazon rainforest, but to large amounts of acreage planted in cacao, and to many members of the Kallari community. One only has to visit the town of Coca - not all that far away - to see the potential for problems. While the combination of SAGD with Ivanhoe's HTL technology has the potential to be much less harmful to the environment, the manner in which the oil leases were granted and the way in which Ivanhoe representatives in Ecuador are treating the locals suggest that there are far larger plans for, and implications of, this development.

As potentially damaging as the oil recovery could be, it's not the only potential problem in the region. One of the key goals of international development and cooperation has been the creation of transcontinental shipping corridors linking Brasil, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, essentially enabling large amounts of goods to be shipped economically from the Atlantic coast of Brasil to the Pacific. Already it is possible to ship goods upriver on large container ships all the way to Iquitos, Peru. Disturbing rumors of construction plans see dredging the Napo River in Ecuador deep enough to take container barges far into Ecuador where they can be offloaded onto trucks and then transported to the coast. The road from Quito to Tena was recently improved, and a new airstrip, which looks more suitable (because of a lack of appropriate terminal facilities for civial passenger traffic) for military and commercial use has been finished in the Tena area, making it possible to (for example) airlift long sections of pipe that can't be trucked into the region. The landing strip there is long enough to support planes large enough to make shrimp and flower (e.g., roses) farming economically viable.

The creation of a transcontinental transportation corridor through the region has the potential to increase exploitive development on a vast scale which, when combined with the kind of extraction methods Ivanhoe intends to deploy in the region could alter local ecosystems beyond recognition and damage them well beyond the point of sustainability.

Working with Judy Logback of Kallari, I have found two people in the region who will be posting stories and pictures to let people know what's going on. (I am going to let them introduce themselves to the group.) At the moment, my goals in setting up the Tena Diaries group are 1) to provide a vehicle to focus international awareness and attention on the region and 2) to try to arrive at a consensus for some call to action, something ChocolateLife members can actually do, to work to protect the people of the region, the cacao, and the rainforest and the lives and livelihoods it harbors.

Discussion Forum

How does SAGD affect local water sources?

Started by Emily Hope Howland. Last reply by Trey Grafa Apr 15, 2010. 2 Replies

After reading through the entire EIA in search of the percentage of river flow used in SAGD and the water to oil ratio in SAGD, I did not find any specific numbers. These paragraphs from the EIA make…Continue

The news here vs. there

Started by Emily Hope Howland. Last reply by Trey Grafa Apr 9, 2010. 13 Replies

Ivanhoe’s most recent press release on the progress of the Pungarayacu project, posted March 16, 2010, contradicts the truth from the ground about what is happening with the project and glorifies the…Continue

Intro to my Tena Diaries

Started by Emily Hope Howland. Last reply by Matt Caputo Mar 23, 2010. 20 Replies

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…Continue

Looking deeper at SAGD and the community

Started by Emily Hope Howland. Last reply by Trey Grafa Mar 10, 2010. 1 Reply

Thanks to Trey’s suggestion, I looked deeper into the SAGD steam injection process that will be used to convert the heavy crude into light. The first question we must ask is, where does this water…Continue

Comment Wall


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Comment by Reonne (aka Choco Mama) on March 11, 2010 at 4:42pm
Rights of Mother Earth Conference coming up in Bolivia around Earth Day. I posted the info and Equador's "Rights for Nature" on my blog today:
Comment by Reonne (aka Choco Mama) on February 17, 2010 at 1:05pm
I'm not sure how close Tena is to the Ecuadorean oil boom town of Lago Agrio, but here's a link to an article from The Global Post about Chevron cleaning up it's toxic mess in the Equadorian rainforest which I feel is a similar/related issue. One quote from the article says, "It's horrendous," Donziger, who has made more than 100 trips to the region, said in a telephone interview. “It is at least 30 times larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill.” Here's a petition from CREDO action that you can sign if you want some action on this issue:
Comment by Reonne (aka Choco Mama) on February 8, 2010 at 4:15pm
I found this web page from the Rainforest Alliance's Frog Blog:

Below are excerpts from the article; the first talks about the Yasuni parklands which sit on oil reserves and the second talks about the Chachi cacao farmers. I'm not sure where Yasuni parklands is, or if it is an area being affected by Ivanhoe.

"Because Yasuni parklands are situated atop major oil reserves and the park is threatened by unsustainable extraction and logging, the study provides further evidence that a moratorium on oil exploration and other development activities would be in the best interest of the park, local communities and biodiversity conservation initiatives."

"In partnership with Conservación y Desarrollo, the Rainforest Alliance is also working to bring sustainable cocoa farming techniques to the indigenous Chachi, who have strong cultural ties to the forest. Since 1997, we've worked to introduce the Chachi -- and other cocoa farmers whose land borders Yasuni -- to the Sustainable Agriculture Network's comprehensive standards for social, environmental and economic sustainability."
Comment by Emily Hope Howland on February 8, 2010 at 2:01pm
I am one of the two bloggers for this group. I live in Tena as a volunteer for Amazon Watch. I will be posting a formal introduction to my blog with a little about me and the purpose and goals of my blog. I'm so excited to see people are interested and knowledgeable about Ivanhoe, Ecuador and the impacts of oil drilling.
As for a quick live update, Ivanhoe said they were beginning construction on their second test well today but plans seemed to have changed. I went to a community meeting in Puerto Napo yesterday, where the second well is supposed to be. I'll be in touch with civil authorities to try and figure out when the second well's going in. In the next couple of weeks I'm hoping to make a visit to the first test well in the town of Nueva Esperanza. I've been told by those who have visited the site that there is already contaminated mud escaping from the test well. While you wait for my first blog entry and formal intro, please look at this link for background on Ivanhoe Energy and its notoriously toxic CEO.
Comment by Loco_por_LosRios_Cacao on February 8, 2010 at 9:57am
Hello, I travel annually to Los Rios Province (on the Western side of the Andes) to visit my wife's family. They have several cacao fincas in the area. If anyone has specific questions about the region or industry in the area , I am pretty knowledgable and no the ins and outs of the local economy.
Comment by lynn michaels on February 7, 2010 at 8:47pm
how do the corporations become conscious for their actions and repercussions - and take responsibility for them?
Comment by Reonne (aka Choco Mama) on February 6, 2010 at 5:01pm
I am very interested in keeping abreast of what's happening with the cacao farms in Equador. Our company uses the excellent chocolate from Equador and I want to do everything I can to support the farmers there. I am troubled to hear about the shipping lanes, bringing the possibility of bigger multi-national companies and commerce. Equador is such a gem of a country...I wouldn't like to see it exploited in a harmful way.
Comment by Eric G on February 6, 2010 at 2:56pm
I am headed to Tena in a couple of weeks. I let you know what I can find out. I have lived in Tena and have worked with Kallari quite a bit.

Here is some more info about Ivanhoe:

I wouldn´t expect much from this Canadian mining company considering its record in Burma.
Comment by Matt Caputo on February 6, 2010 at 1:15pm
Yikes! This sounds bad. I will tell all my friends of The Chocolate Life and also spread the word at our chocolate classes here in Salt Lake. Keep us posted.
Comment by Maren Muter on February 6, 2010 at 12:53pm
Understanding the worry of "drilling" and our natural resources has caused me to help clear some of the questions you may have.

The Canadian company that may potentially strip the oil may not be completely devastating to the region's topography.

If they are strip mining that is bad. This is done when the oil is very near the surface and they remove everything from the surface. Dig and grab everything underneath until they reach the oil sand. When they are done, they usually try to replace and repair what they've moved. replant trees....

The good thing is Canadian companies have experience in this area as many of their upcoming resources are in the oil sands. If the oil is a little deeper they will send hot water and steam below the surface to melt the oil (separate it from the sand) and then they will "vacuum" it out. This is far less obtrusive and much more environmental!

If you have any questions please let me know. I am very closely connected to this industry and can help in the understanding of the actions they take.

Unrestricted exploration does not have to be bad - that is up to the company. I am hoping that Ivanhoe understands and takes into consideration the FRAGILE BALANCE of the area they are heading to and take care in their exploration. However, if they are irresponsible, the potential for damage to the area is very great.

I will do what I can to find out what is going on and do my best to keep you updated on the workings in the north.

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