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Ecuador Experience

Oil and Gas

Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for Papagayo 3D Seismic

Awarded Energy Institute Environmental Award, 2004 (London, U.K.)
WALSH-Ecuador developed an ESIA for the largest 3D seismic project to date in Ecuador. The ESIA produced avoided or minimized the clearing of primary forest vegetation in areas within the Yasuni National Park. The client required the opening of highly sensitive areas for helipads, camps and discharge zones. WALSH-Ecuador was involved in complex negotiations with communities for access and produced an innovative EMP to address concerns of stakeholders. Satellite images of the project area were reviewed and different colors revealed areas of secondary vegetation. Most of these areas had been used years ago for seismic projects, and others belonged to clear or natural secondary forest. Over flights confirmed the presence of secondary forest in these previously opened areas and the proposal was accepted and included in the EMP, which almost completely minimized the opening of primary forest in the project area. This project received the Award for Best Environmental Project worldwide in 2004, which was granted by the Energy Institute in London, UK.

Innovative Rainforest "Canopy Bridge" Allowing Movement of Arboreal Animals Across Pipelines for Edén Yuturi Oil Field Project

Received the Health, Safety, and Environmental (HSE)/Sustainable Development Award during World Oil Awards in 2004 (Houston, U.S.A.)
Based upon WALSH-Ecuador sustainable efforts relating to this project, the Institute of Petroleum, in association with Woods Mackenzie, awarded E & E/WALSH and OXY with the first-place Environment Award for Excellence in the Oil and Gas Industry. WALSH-Ecuador provided environmental services in support of OXY’s development of the Edén Yuturi oil field in northern Ecuador. Environmental services included the construction of Innovative “canopy bridges” which were designed to provide pathways of migration for arboreal mammals, in effort to preserve the forest’s biodiversity while constructing the 135-kilometer pipeline corridor. Bridges were constructed by narrowing sections of the corridor, successfully allowing the movement of arboreal mammals. Bi-weekly meetings were scheduled with the client and contractor during construction to address non-compliance and unanticipated impacts.

Oil Spill Assessments

WALSH-Ecuador continues to provide reports for internal and regulatory submittals as well as recommendations for remediation activities. Rapid assessments of oil spills during and after clean-up activities will be developed based upon laboratory analysis of collected samples.

Spill Contingency Plans

WALSH-Ecuador continues to produce spill contingency plans for pipelines and facilities for various clients as well as provide recommendations for spill contingency equipment. Spill plans and recommendations developed by WALSH will include control point determination and appropriate access routes for project areas.

Due Diligence for Acquisition of Three Petroleum Blocks in Sensitive Rainforest

Environmental and social due-diligence audits of three petroleum blocks were conducted, including active and abandoned facilities, impacts to soil and water quality, and community liabilities. Field data was quickly collected, analyzed and reported during the contract negotiations for purchase of the blocks. A detailed review of historic compliance issues with reference to Ecuadorian law as well as technical and legal support during the arbitration was conducted. WALSH-Ecuador provided recommendations for remediation and upgrades of facilities and an estimated cost to correct liabilities.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for 3D Seismic in Cuyabeno Fauna Reserve

WALSH-Ecuador conducted a baseline study while coordinating with local stakeholders and the Ministry of Environment for a 3-D seismic project in Cuyabeno Fauna Reserve. WALSH worked closely with the client, stakeholders and government to reduce direct impacts, minimizing number of heliports, and prohibiting boat traffic on sensitive river systems. Support was also provided during the public consultation process and presentations to government authorities. The project design was modified to reduce indirect impacts from colonization and illegal hunting, fishing and timber harvest. This project became the first 100% 3D seismic EIA within a protected area approved in Ecuador.

Land-use Change Study in Oil Field in National Park

WALSH provided a multi-temporal analysis of land use along an access road of oil facilities in a national park to determine rates of conversion of rainforest to agriculture. The analysis included digital and printed maps indicating areas of forest conversion and significantly reduced the estimation of secondary impacts as well as demonstrated the effectiveness of the client’s access control program.

EIAs for Exploratory and Development Drilling Projects

WALSH-Ecuador prepared over twenty EIAs for exploratory and development drilling projects in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The proposed locations for these wells were located in various national parks that have highly sensitive areas, several different indigenous groups and colonist communities.  Baseline information was collected at the well sites during each field campaign and communities were visited to provide updated demographic information identifying social issues, possible conflicts, and delineate all tourist areas within the region that could potentially be affected by the exploration project. The baseline and satellite information collected were used to adjust the location of platforms away from sensitive areas.

GIS-based Environmental Management System (EMS) for Oil Exploration and Production

WALSH-Ecuador developed the first GIS-based EMS used in Ecuador. The EMS contains all environmental data in a user-friendly GIS which allows the user to ask questions and query environmental databases to simulate certain environmental situations. The data incorporated in the EMS includes satellite images, aerial photographs, engineering plans, environmental sampling data, environmental analytical analyses, etc.

Determination of Environmental Damage

WALSH-Ecuador conducted a study to determine the extent of environmental impacts associated with oil and gas exploration and production activities. The study was conducted in the Ecuadorian Amazon, where significant environmental impacts have been documented for many years, including deforestation and colonization, impacts attributed mostly to oil exploration and other economic activity in the area. A satellite image taken before OEPC began production of the block was purchased and quantified the areas of cleared land using GIS system. The same calculations were applied to a recent satellite image and assigned causes of the damage based on proximity to infrastructure and other relevant pathways. The resulting map showed impacts during the company's operation of the block, color-coded to the source of impact. The analysis of the buffer area was used to identify deforestation rates associated with different combinations of migratory pathways. The results indicated the percentage of total deforestation related to Occidental’s operations and the percentage related to other factors.

Strategy and EIA for Petroleum Production Development Plan in Yasuni National Park

WALSH-Ecuador developed a strategic plan for design and negotiations with stakeholders for a petroleum development project within Yasuni National Park. Several modifications of the project design and Environmental Management Plan were applied to reach consensus with stakeholders and reduce primary and secondary impacts. Public presentations to stakeholders and government authorities provided analysis of detailed baseline studies in collaboration with scientific research stations, Ministry of Environment and indigenous groups.

Stakeholder Analysis and ESIA, Block 31

WALSH-Ecuador produced an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for stakeholder analysis and assistance in stakeholder engagement for the development of Block 31 located in Yasuni National Park.

ESIA for Petroleum Block in Yemen

WALSH-Ecuador developed an ESIA for a petroleum operation in Yemen, in coordination with WALSH headquarters located in Boulder, Colorado. The ESIA produced for this project became a future model for the client’s other worldwide operations.

EIA and Environmental Services for a Pipeline Crossing Conflictive and Rapidly Growing Urban Center in Rainforest

WALSH-Ecuador developed fourteen alternatives for a feeder pipeline across an expanding Amazon city that balanced impacts and feasibility.  Alternative route evaluations were coordinated with client’s engineering group and detailed scoping and baseline information were collected including socio-economic aspects. Additional pipelines were constructed for the operation and special exemptions from the environmental law were required. WALSH provided assistance in stakeholder consultation and negotiations with local government authorities, completed an archaeological rescue of ROW, and the EIA with low level of conflict. The project was constructed ahead of schedule.

Biodiversity Monitoring, Yuturi Pipeline

WALSH-Ecuador submitted a biodiversity monitoring plan as part of environmental license requirement and established two biodiversity plots to measure impacts from construction and operation of the pipeline. A team consisting of eight specialists established permanent biology transects, with new methodologies for measuring biodiversity for all subfields, and provided recommendations to client and construction contractor to minimize impacts, in addition to the provisions in the EMP. The final report was submitted to the Ministry of Environment evaluating impacts from the project. The monitoring during construction phase measured very low direct impact to biodiversity, which strengthened relations with government authorities and stakeholders.

EIA and Geological Assessment for Transcontinental Pipeline

WALSH-Ecuador conducted an EIA for a 500 km heavy crude pipeline being built to link production in Ecuador’s Amazon with loading and processing facilities on the Pacific coast. The pipeline crossed many sensitive environments, including the territories of indigenous peoples, the Andes, and other geographical areas. The physical and archeological components were evaluated for a variety of alternatives for the OCP transcontinental pipeline and a detailed geologic risk analysis was completed including (slope stability, seismic, volcanic and tsunami) for route across geologically active Andes Mountain Range. Micro-routing recommendations were provided at the erupting volcano of Reventador and in high precipitation areas where adjacent pipeline was destroyed during construction of the OCP. An Archaeological rescue of ROW was completed as well as the analysis of slope stability and other geological information of Mindo Ridge.

Outsourcing of Environmental Monitors for Pipeline Construction

WALSH-Ecuador provided environmental monitors for OCP construction activities and recommendations for additional mitigations to reduce impacts from soil erosion and waste water discharge.

EIA for Large Seismic Acquisition in a National Park

Environmental services were provided during the scoping phase of project through to execution, including the identification of previously impacted areas in historic LandSat satelliteimages (heliports from previous seismic programs) in order to minimize impacts of cutting new heliports in primary forest. The detailed baseline study was completed in collaboration with scientific research stations, Ministry of Environment and indigenous groups. Consultation meetings were scheduled with all stakeholders, and WALSH-Ecuador continued close coordination with various departments of the client to modify project design to minimize impacts. Rapid incorporation of public (formal and informal) comments was considered during the final edits of the EIA.

EIA for a 3-D Seismic Project

WALSH-Ecuador conducted several EIAs for a 3-D seismic program in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The reports paid particular attention to the unique properties of the 3-D seismic grid, and addressed the incremental damages compared to a traditional 2-D seismic program. One of the studies involved constructing heliports and camps to be placed in previously cleared areas to reduce impacts and was the first 3-D seismic program approved within a national park in Ecuador

EIA for 2-D Seismic Projects

WALSH-Ecuador produced several EIAs for 2-D seismic projects in the Ecuadorian Amazon by collecting detailed baseline information to predict the area of influence of the seismic programs by quantifying anticipated primary and secondary impacts along the planned seismic lines.

EIA for a Seismic Project

WALSH-Ecuador conducted an EIA for a seismic project in a block located in the remote south-central portion of Ecuador. Strategies were developed to satisfy the social demands of the native communities and NGOs to maintain a proper balance during negotiations with the local indigenous groups, the client, and government authorities.

Environmental and Health and Safety Audit of Producing Oilfields

WALSH-Ecuador produced an Environmental and Health and Safety Audit for an American company taking over an oilfield operation in Ecuador. The audit concluded with a report detailing existing conditions, and making substantial recommendations for environmental and safety actions to be taken.

Weather Station Installation, Monitoring and Maintenance

WALSH-Ecuador installed a weather station on a transmission tower at oil facility to collect weather data, and provide interpretation of the data for the client. The special installation and maintenance prevented corrosion of electronics reducing the environmental impact in the area.


Evaluation of Ecuadorian Mining Sector Legal Framework

WALSH-Ecuador conducted an evaluation of current legal framework with comparison to petroleum sector.

Copper Mine Due Diligence

WALSH-Ecuador analyzed, Social Due-Diligence and Risk Assessment of a copper asset in the province of Imbabura for stakeholders.


ESIA for Cruise Ship Visiting Galapagos

WALSH-Ecuador conducted an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for a Discovery World Cruise ship visiting the Galapagos Islands. Environmental licenses and legal representation were provided in coordination with stakeholders.

Alternative Energy

Galapagos Wind Project

WALSH-Ecuador developed an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the client E8 wind project on San Cristobol Island. WALSH provided environmental oversight and assisted in designing the webpage for client.

Social and Archaeological Development

EIA for 3D Seismic in Colonization Area

A baseline study was executed for a 3-D seismic program in a socially dynamic and conflictive area with land tenure issues. Biological and physical information was collected for this baseline study which helped design a seismic grid, heliport location and base camp location to minimize environmental impacts and social conflicts. The GIS department used Landsat 7 imagery to map 35 indigenous communities and pre-cooperatives, land use and deforestation tendencies, and collected socio-economic data. The data collected from the GIS imagery was provided to the client in order to help seismic contractor plan the execution of the seismic acquisition. The EIA conducted for this project was approved ahead of schedule.

Archeological Rescue of Eden-Yuturi Oil Field

WALSH-Ecuador provided services for an archaeological rescue of a large Pre-Columbian site discovered in the Eden-Yuturi Oil Field. The coordination with constructors and government authorities allowed the rescue to be facilitated quickly to avoid time delays in construction. Over 100 re-constructible ceramic vessels and 150,000 pottery fragments were recovered during the excavation. The archaeological facts were washed, labeled, classified, and analyzed at WALSH archaeology laboratory. Selected reconstructed vessels were given to the Central Bank Museum and a regional museum for display. The discovery of this Pre-Columbian site and findings were published in academic books.

Due Diligence for State Oil Fields with Heritage Issues

WALSH-Ecuador provided a rapid assessment of environmental and social liabilities of an older oil field that estimated the cost to correct liabilities, and evaluated legal and social risks associated with the acquisition.

Co-publication of Archeological Coffee Table Book, Ancestral Cuyabeno

Information was provided in chapters for a book from E&E/WALSH archeological rescues conducted in Petroleum Blocks. Re-constructed pottery was supplied from the E&E/WALSH laboratory for photographs and funding was provided for the publication. As a result of providing necessary information and co-publication of this book, relations were strengthened between clients and the National Cultural Patrimony Institute of Ecuador.

Public Presentations and Consultation Process in Native Languages

Technical staff fluent in native languages of Quichua and Huaorani conducted a power point presentation to explain proposed exploration and development projects to affected communities. WALSH received and translated written and verbal comments during the consultation process and strengthened relations with local indigenous communities.

Other Industries

ESA for Office

WALSH-Ecuador conducted an Environmental Site Assessment that followed strict ASTM regulations for IBM´s office located in Quito.

Interactive CD “A New Environmental Conscience in the Ecuadorian Petroleum Industry” for the Ministry of Environment

WALSH-Ecuador produced a CD for the Minister of Environment in 2002 to present during United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) (Johannesburg, South Africa). The CD incorporated diverse data that was collected in a very short time frame, and WALSH accompanied the official delegation of Ecuador to South Africa to present the CD at the WSSD. Technical advice was provided to the Minister of Environment on Energy Policy and Environmental issues during the WSSD. The coordination during the production of the CD strengthened relations between clients in Petroleum Industry and the Ministry of Environment.
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