South and Meso American Indian Rights Center


Venezuela, The survival of the Warao and their environment under serious threat from new oil leases

RIGHT NOW and during the coming days the Venezuelan Congress is going to decide about the approval of three oil leases, granted to three transnational corporations, containing 526,000 acres in the Delta Amacuro. The confirmation of these leases will mean a destruction of the Warao and their habitat.

The 21,000 Warao, living in the Delta Amacuro, are already in a precarious situation. The opening up of their natural environment will be disastrous. The last couple of years, epidemics of cholera, measles, and malaria have killed substantial numbers of Warao. They depend on river water for drinking, cooking and washing. Besides from the 'normal' operations of exploring and drilling, further deforestation and destruction will occur if the leases are granted.

The companies Louisiana Land and Exploration Co. (New Orleans, Louisiana), Benton Oil and Gas Company (Carpinteria, California) and Norcen Energy Resources (Canada) are expected to invest $50 to $60 million during the first five years. Already, in 1993 British Petrol was granted rights to reopen old oil wells near Pedernales, in the northwestern part of the delta. They are now producing 10,000 barrels per day.

Warao communities have been struggling for years to obtain greater political voice, however mostly unsuccesfully. Therefore, it is imperative to act now! Substantial international pressure is necessary to confront these large transnational corporations.

Please send letters of protest. A sample copy follows.

Dear Sirs:

I understand that your company wants to explore the precious Amacuro Delta. Given the fragile ecology of the delta, oil exploration and extraction will have disastrous effects. The Indigenous Warao people, are entirely dependent on river water for drinking, cooking and washing.

The dispersal of contaminants associated with the normal operations of exploring and drilling would be extensive ands would have highly adverse health effects.

Given the ecological, cultural, and economic configuration of the delta, it is absolutely clear that oil exploration will have disastrous short-term and long-term effects on the Warao people.

I would therefore like to ask you to stop your drilling and exploring operations in the Amacuro Delta. I oppose approval of these new leases and all other projects involving oil exploration and exploitation in the delta.

Yours sincerely


Cheryl Dick
Corporate Communications
Norcen Energy Resources Limited
PO Box 2595, Station M
Calgary, Alberta
T2P 4V4, Canada
Tel.: (403) 231-0274
Fax.: (403) 231-011
email: cdick@

H. Leighton Steward, CEO
Louisiana Land and Exploration Company
909 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70112 USA
Tel. (504) 566-6500
Fax. (504) 566-6891

Alex E. Benton, CEO
Benton Oil and Gas Company
1145 Eugenia Place, Ste. 200
Carpinteria, CA 93013
Tel. (805) 566-5600
Fax. (805) 566-5610

Peter Brigg
Public Relations British Petroleum Company, p.l.c.
Britannic House
1 Finsbury Circus
London EC2M 7BA
United Kingdom
Tel. 0171-496 4000
Fax. 0171-496 4528

Tom Coch
Public Relations Manager BP America Inc.
BP American Building
200 Public Square
Cleveland, OH 44114
Tel. (216) 586-6511
Fax. (216) 586-6957

BP Exploration de Venezuela. S.A.
Edificio Centro Seguros Sud-America
Piso Cinco, Avda. Francisco de Miranda, cruce Avda. Mohedano Apartado 60171
Chacao, Caracas, Venezuela
Tel. + 58 2 901 9000
Fax. + 58 2 953 0719

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