Argentina’s Supreme Court unfreezes Chevron assets

The decision comes seven months after a judge ordered freezing of the assets.

New Statesman
Photograph: Getty Images.

Argentina’s Supreme Court has lifted the freeze on the assets of Chevron Corporation, a major victory for the US energy firm after being involved in a 20-year-old dispute with indigenous groups for allegedly causing environmental damages in the Amazon region of Ecuador.

This decision is also considered significant for the government of Argentina as Chevron is set to invest $1.5bn through a joint venture deal with YPF, a state-owned oil firm, in July to develop the Vaca Muerta super-field.

The company in a statement, said: “This is a significant development further demonstrating the illegitimacy of the Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ attempt to enforce their fradulent judgment. The Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ corrupt judgment will not be enforced by any legal system that observes the Rule of Law.”

A $19 billion asset freeze judgment was slapped against Chevron by a court in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, for alleged contamination resulting from crude oil production in the region in February 2011.

Texaco Petroleum, which ceased operations in Equador in 1992, was acquired by Chevron in 2001.

Seven months ago, Argentina’s judge Adrián Elcuj Miranda ordered freezing of the assets under a treaty, which has been signed by both Ecuador and Argentina.

As Chevron doesn't have significant assets in Ecuador, now the groups are trying to embargo the company’s assets in other countries, which are signatories to the treaty with Ecuador.

 The indigenous groups are also chasing the firm in Canada, Brazil, and Colombia, and plan to file lawsuits in other countries to enforce the judgment.

Chevron produces crude oil and natural gas in Argentina through a wholly owned subsidiary, Chevron Argentina, which is the sixth-largest producer of oil in the country, with concessions in the Neuquén Basin.