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Oil Stories

Oil Stories is a television production by the award-winning London production company, Paladin Invision. It is a three-part series, commissioned by the BBC, PBS and CBC. It deals with various themes related with the global oil industry: geopolitics, economics, human rights and the environment.
For the environment story, the production crew travelled to Ecuador. I was contracted by Paladin Invision as their 'fixer', the local producer. It entailed 'recceing' (pre-production reconnaissance) of interviewees and locations, all transport, accommodation and meal coordination once the crew arrived, and all translation work for interviews and liaising with local contacts. It was a fantastic, if exhausting, experience.
Here are some photos from the production.
The series, entitled "Oil: The World Over a Barrell", was screened in late 2004 on CBC in Canada, PBS in the US, and BBCFour in the UK.

We travelled from oil's source in the Ecuadorian Amazon, past Quito, through the Andean cloudforest and down to the Pacific Coast.

<< Here we see a 'production water' pit from a well first drilled by Texaco in the 1970s.

>> Pipelines run from the village to the local 'mini-station' where gas and water is separated from the crude before being pumped to the main station.

Apocalyptic sight behind the Shushufindi station

Welcome to Lago Agrio, oil capital of the country.

We were in Lago Agrio in the Amazon to film the start of the remarkable trial of ChevronTexaco (which is still ongoing, April 06....).
The trial will take place in a courthouse which lies on a potholed street (<< left), opposite the local market, with all its attendant noises and smells
Protests outside the courthouse on the opening day. The Indian women are from the Huaorani people, while top left is a Cofan and top middle, a Secoya. Most of the plaintiffs, however, are colonists, such as the two old biddies bottom left. Chris Buchanan and Rebecca John (producers) enjoy police protection, bottom right.
In Quito, we interviewed various players in the oil scene.
Pipeline cutting its swathe through the Mindo-Nambillo cloudforest reserve, northwest of Quito. The sign reads "We protect the environment" - without a hint of irony...
Oil from the Amazon leaves Ecuador at the Pacific coast town of Esmeraldas. Here, OCP has a terminal where oil is piped to waiting tankers, and PetroEcuador has a huge refinery.

For an excellent article on oil in Ecuador, and its relationship with California, by Tom Knudson, go here.
Plaintiffs' website in the ChevronTexaco trial:
ChevronTexaco website with press release about trial:


All material on all sites (unless otherwise stated) is © 1998-2006 Dominic Hamilton
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