Ecuador will begin operating three oil fields in an Amazon preserve unless the international community contributes US$100 million by December, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said on Saturday.
Ecuador’s government pledged in 2007 to leave the oil fields under the Yasuni biosphere reserve untapped for a decade if rich nations would contribute US$3.6 billion, which it estimated was half of what the country could earn from the oil.
The government wanted to get US$100 million for this year, but officials have said only about US$37 million has been donated by Chile, Spain, Belgium and Italy.
“Unfortunately we are not -getting the response we expected,” Correa said in his Saturday broadcast program, Dialogue with the President.
Correa warned that Ecuador will have to drop its Yasuni initiative if the full US$100 million is not in hand before year’s end.
The fields in the Yasuni National Park are estimated to hold 846 million barrels of crude, or 20 percent of Ecuador’s reserves, and Correa said money from the oil is needed to finance the country’s economic development.
He said if Ecuador goes ahead with oil exploitation in Yasuni, the work will be done “with all care” using high technology to minimize damage to the environment.