QUITO – President Rafael Correa said Saturday his administration has a “plan B” up its sleeve in the event the Yasuni-ITT initiative – a proposal by Ecuador to leave Amazon oil in the ground in exchange for international compensation – is unsuccessful.
In his weekly radio address, he said Vice President Lenin Moreno has begun a tour of Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey to promote the initiative, which seeks to protect the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve in northeastern Ecuador.
Ecuador says that not extracting the estimated 846 million barrels of oil in the ITT field – located within Yasuni, one of the world’s most bio-diverse areas – will prevent the emission of 410 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
It has asked the international community to cooperate by contributing an amount equivalent to at least half the revenue that the Ecuadorian government would receive by extracting the oil to the so-called Yasuni-ITT Trust Fund, to be administered by the U.N. Development Program.
Ecuador would then use the money raised for investment in renewable energy projects such as hydroelectric, geothermal, wind and solar power plants.
But Correa said Saturday that his government has a plan B if the initiative falls through.
“We would never want to use it, but if necessary, we will; we’re not going to play around with the wellbeing of the Ecuadorian people,” he said of an alternative option of extracting the oil with “minimum environmental impact.”
Correa said the Petroamazonas oil firm, a unit of state-owned Petroecuador, “is studying the matter” and that a plan is being drawn up to potentially drill in the vicinity of the reserve and recover a large portion of the oil.