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Successful Social Environmental Management Model, Implemented in Ecuador to Overcome Impacts From a Heavy Crude Oil Spill

[+] Author Affiliations
Miguel Ángel Alemán

ENTRIX Inc., Quito, Ecuador

Ramiro Bermeo, Andrés Mendizábal, Wong Loon

OCP Ecuador S.A., Quito, Ecuador

Paper No. IPC2010-31179, pp. 149-158; 10 pages
  • 2010 8th International Pipeline Conference
  • 2010 8th International Pipeline Conference, Volume 3
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada, September 27–October 1, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: International Petroleum Technology Institute and the Pipeline Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4422-9 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3885-3
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


On February 25, 2009, OCP Ecuador S.A. faced its first incident; an oil spill consisting of 11,700 barrels of heavy crude oil in an area of high biodiversity in eastern Ecuador. An earth movement caused stress in the pipeline causing its breakage. The temporarily impacted area covered 30 hectares of soil and gravel along 180 kilometers of three rivers that form the high watershed of the Amazon River; these rivers are the Santa Rosa, Quijos and the Coca. During the emergency, while workers rallied to contain the spill and clean the affected area, other workers took safety precautions regarding the health of the inhabitants of the area. Consequently, 1,258 residents from the Gonzalo Pizarro and Orellana cantons received medical assistance in order to rule out patients with pathologies related to the oil spill. OCP executed a joint effort with the Emergency Operations Committee (COE) stationed in Coca in order to supply water for the citizens that reside in the affected area. OCP responded to the requirements claimed by residents, all of which were approved by the COE. Communities affected by the event participated in cleaning efforts through the creation of temporary jobs for them. OCP strictly adhered to the regulations passed by the Ministry of the Environment and those of internationally accepted best practices for these types of events. The media and the citizenry were kept continuously abreast of developments. In addition, all corresponding works and reliability tests were performed on March 4 in order to restart pumping activities. On September 30th, 2009, and following a rigorous process of cleaning and remediation (L&Rr—in Spanish) activities, all tasks were completed in all affected areas prior to an inspection and a walking tour of the area performed by governmental authorities, community members and independent observers. For the collective benefit of affected communities, the environment and OCP, local authorities and international auditors recognized the model established during the event. OCP created a taskforce charged with the execution of the Environmental Remediation Program (PRA—in Spanish) and environmental authorities prepared and approved this program. The Environmental Remediation Taskforce (UPRA) covered the following aspects related to the incident: legal, environmental, cleaning and remediation technical aspects, as well as social, environmental, financial, insurance, internal and external communication aspects, along with a rigorous oversight of contractors. The model implemented is the first of its kind deployed in Ecuador. National and international regulations in force validated the methodology used to remediate the soil, riverbanks and surface water contaminated with the oil caused by the incident. The application of this methodology, aptly deployed in response to the distress situation present at the various affected areas, allowed a reduction in a short period, of the total hydrocarbon concentrations established in the environmental standard, to equal or lower values than those previously indicated for sensitive ecosystems. OCP developed and implemented a technical, environmental and economic matrix that allowed the Company to choose and justify the remediation methods used in affected areas.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME
Topics: Crude oil



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