The Coast Part I - Canoa

We arrived on the coast on Saturday to a tiny beach town called Canoa, which means canoe in Spanish. There is a special dish here called ceviche - a cold seafood soup with lemon juice and cilantro, that we tried for lunch on Sunday.

The newest oil pipeline - (OCP) for heavy crude - flows west over the Andes through Papallacta to the coast where it is refined. There is a large refinery in Esmereldas, farther north up the coast, where the oil is processed and shipped out. Even though a large portion of Ecuador’s economy is the production of oil and petroleum products, Ecuador still imports oil. The country has to buy back the petroleum products from the companies that export it, which is part of the reason why this country has so much foreign debt.

To start, the government takes out loans from the World Bank to build the pipes, wells, drills, and other infrastructure that the oil companies will use for extracting oil. Foreign multinationals estimate the amount of oil they will be able to extract, and they only have to pay a tax if they extract at least as much as they estimate. Then Ecuador has to buy the oil back after it is refined. Because of this deal, the country hasn’t made enough from either pipeline to pay back the original loans. This deal for both of Ecuador’s main pipelines, planned and financed by the IMF & World Bank, clearly hasn’t been the economic boost for Ecuador’s economy that it was promised to be. And we’ve seen the ecological damage first hand.