AHC Group

Why can`t we treat the rain Forest like the Ocean?

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Courtesy of AHC Group

This article describes a successful example of creative corporate problem-solving that resulted in development of an oil field in an Ecuadorian rain forest in a manner that preserved the rain forest and at less cost than the traditional method of exploration.

During my term as a member of the Board of Directors of the Atlantic Richfield Corporation (ARCO) I heard a presentation on discoveries of commercial oil and gas deposits that aroused my sensitivities. It concerned a commercial find in the Ecuadorian rain forest which I was sure would lead to a confrontation with Rain Forest Alert and other international and local environmental groups dedicated to protecting the rain forest and its indigenous peoples.

ARCO, with a long culture of sensitivity to the environment, was receptive to listening and exploring the possibilities of how they could proceed differently. (The Valdez spill will never be forgotten by the oil industry.) The result of this culture of openness to environmental concerns led to a meeting between myself and Mike Bowlin, CEO of ARCO's international division and subsequent CEO of ARCO. I suggested to Mike that the corporation contact Bobby Kennedy, Jr. and Jacob Scher, of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), because these environmentalists had supported Conoco in its development of an oil field in the Ecuadorian rain forest. Their rationale was that because all developing countries would exploit their oil for revenue, it made better environmental sense to support the well-capitalized oil companies, who might be more ecologically sensitive than the small independents that might not, because the small companies did not have the resources to do the job other than at the lowest cost.

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