Why Latin America?
At Equitable Origin, our goal is to positively transform the global oil and gas industry, to ensure that biodiversity is protected and local communities benefit both economically and socially from oil and gas development.
While our sights are set on the world, we are starting with Latin America, where a significant amount of new oil and gas development is taking place. Many of these developments overlap with the rich and unique biodiversity of the region’s ecosystems, as well as the cultural heritage of its many indigenous communities. While the level of development and democracy varies from country to country, Latin America is a mostly democratic region, with well-developed institutional systems and highly trained and capable human resources. The combination of all these factors makes it an important region for us to begin to implement and test the E100™ Standard.
Nevertheless, there are still big challenges facing the region. Species are lost every day as huge swaths of the Amazon forest are cleared for development, affecting both ecosystems and the communities that live in these areas. There is also a long history of social unrest and social conflict related to oil and gas development. These conflicts present challenges not only for local communities, but also for companies seeking to develop the region’s oil and gas resources.
Manuel Pallares, a founding member of Equitable Origin and Vice President for Stakeholder Engagement, knows this history firsthand. A native of Ecuador, he has spent more than two decades working on these issues in the Andean region and is an expert on the social and environmental implications of oil and gas exploration and production. He sees the establishment of better practices and approaches to oil and gas development as “an absolute must” for the nations of Latin America. “If we want to keep on using these resources to fuel the growth of our economies, we need to do it in harmony with indigenous people and the environment,” Manuel adds.
Equitable Origin’s work in Latin America over the last two-and-a-half years has focused mainly in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Mexico and Brazil. Currently, our most significant activity is in Colombia, which produces nearly one million barrels of oil per day, a total that is expected to increase significantly in the coming years.
Colombia offers a microcosm of the characteristics that make Latin America an attractive place for us to implement our standard. The country has a well-established and relatively stable institutional and legal framework governing oil and gas production and environmental conservation. It is also the second-most biodiverse country on Earth, with countless species and rich ecosystems from the Andes to the Amazon. While the indigenous communities of Colombia have not historically had much interaction with the oil and gas industry, as developments move farther into remote areas, there is more and more overlap and potential for conflict. As our engagement in Colombia moves forward, we are working with key industry players, as well as with civil society groups, such as the Organization of Indigenous Peoples of Amazonian Colombia (OPIAC), to allow all stakeholders to work together to improve operating conditions in the Amazon basin, promoting biodiversity protection, economic and social development and better business conditions.[code-snippet name=”css-custom-featured-image-single-post”]