I have to admit that, much to my shame, I missed an important documentary that was released in 2009. That American documentary was directed and produced by Joe Berlinger, and was titled Crude: The Real Price of Oil. The film follows the progress during 2006 and 2007 of a $27 billion legal case brought against the Chevron Corporation following the drilling of the Lago Agrio oil field, a case also known as the “Amazon Chernobyl”.
The Lago Agrio field is known internationally for the serious ecological problems that oil development has created there, including water pollution, soil contamination, deforestation and cultural upheaval. Since 1993, lawyers representing local residents have sought to force former well operator Texaco and its now parent company Chevron Corporation to clean the area and to provide for the care of those allegedly affected.
The plaintiffs of the class action lawsuit are 30,000 Ecuadorians living in the Amazonian rainforest they claim has been polluted by the oil industry. In addition to the legal struggle, Crude shows interviews from both sides, and explores the influence of media support, celebrity activism, the power of multi-national corporations, the shifting of power in Ecuadorian politics, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures on the case.
The film concludes with the prediction that the legal case will not be resolved for another decade or so.