MTBE Chevron and many other companies in the petroleum industry have used methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) as a gasoline additive. Chevron is a party to ten pending lawsuits and claims, the majority of which involve numerous other petroleum marketers and refiners. Resolution of these lawsuits and claims may ultimately require the company to correct or ameliorate the alleged effects on the environment of prior release of MTBE by the company or other parties. Additional lawsuits and claims related to the use of MTBE, including personal-injury claims, may be filed in the future. The company’s ultimate exposure related to pending lawsuits and claims is not determinable. The company no longer uses MTBE in the manufacture of gasoline in the United States.
Ecuador Chevron is a defendant in a civil lawsuit initiated in the Superior Court of Nueva Loja in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, in May 2003 by plaintiffs who claim to be representatives of certain residents of an area where an oil production consortium formerly had operations. The lawsuit alleges damage to the environment from the oil exploration and production operations and seeks unspecified damages to fund environmental remediation and restoration of the alleged environmental harm, plus a health monitoring program. Until 1992, Texaco Petroleum Company (Texpet), a subsidiary of Texaco Inc., was a minority member of this consortium with Petroecuador, the Ecuadorian state-owned oil company, as the majority partner; since 1990, the operations have been conducted solely by Petroecuador. At the conclusion of the consortium and following an independent third-party environmental audit of the concession area, Texpet entered into a formal agreement with the Republic of Ecuador and Petroecuador for Texpet to remediate specific sites assigned by the government in proportion to Texpet’s ownership share of the consortium. Pursuant to that agreement, Texpet conducted a three-year remediation program at a cost of $40. After certifying that the sites were properly remediated, the government granted Texpet and all related corporate entities a full release from any and all environmental liability arising from the consortium operations.
Based on the history described above, Chevron believes that this lawsuit lacks legal or factual merit. As to matters of law, the company believes first, that the court lacks jurisdiction over Chevron; second, that the law under which plaintiffs bring the action, enacted in 1999, cannot be applied retroactively; third, that the claims are barred by the statute of limitations in Ecuador; and, fourth, that the lawsuit is also barred by the releases from liability previously given to Texpet by the Republic of Ecuador and Petroecuador and by the pertinent provincial and municipal governments. With regard to the facts, the company believes that the evidence confirms that Texpet’s remediation was properly conducted and that the remaining environmental damage reflects Petroecuador’s
failure to timely fulfill its legal obligations and Petroecuador’s further conduct since assuming full control over the operations.
In 2008, a mining engineer appointed by the court to identify and determine the cause of environmental damage, and to specify steps needed to remediate it, issued a report recommending that the court assess $18,900, which would, according to the engineer, provide financial compensation for purported damages, including wrongful death claims, and pay for, among other items, environmental remediation, health care systems and additional infrastructure for Petroecuador. The engineer’s report also asserted that an additional $8,400 could be assessed against Chevron for unjust enrichment. In 2009, following the disclosure by Chevron of evidence that the judge participated in meetings in which businesspeople and individuals holding themselves out as government officials discussed the case and its likely outcome, the judge presiding over the case was recused. In 2010, Chevron moved to strike the mining engineer’s report and to dismiss the case based on evidence obtained through discovery in the United States indicating that the report was prepared by consultants for the plaintiffs before being presented as the mining engineer’s independent and impartial work and showing further evidence of misconduct. In August 2010, the judge issued an order stating that he was not bound by the mining engineer’s report and requiring the parties to provide their positions on damages within 45 days. Chevron subsequently petitioned for recusal of the judge, claiming that he had disregarded evidence of fraud and misconduct and that he had failed to rule on a number of motions within the statutory time requirement.
In September 2010, Chevron submitted its position on damages, asserting that no amount should be assessed against it. The plaintiffs’ submission, which relied in part on the mining engineer’s report, took the position that damages are between approximately $16,000 and $76,000 and that unjust enrichment should be assessed in an amount between approximately $5,000 and $38,000. The next day, the judge issued an order closing the evidentiary phase of the case and notifying the parties that he had requested the case file so that he could prepare a judgment. Chevron petitioned to have that order declared a nullity in light of Chevron’s prior recusal petition, and because procedural and evidentiary matters remained unresolved. In October 2010, Chevron’s motion to recuse the judge was granted. A new judge took charge of the case and revoked the prior judge’s order closing the evidentiary phase of the case. On December 17, 2010, the judge issued an order closing the evidentiary phase of the case and notifying the parties that he had requested the case file so that he could prepare a judgment.
On February 14, 2011, the provincial court in Lago Agrio rendered an adverse judgment in the case. The court rejected Chevron’s defenses to the extent the court addressed them in its opinion. The judgment assessed approximately $8,600 in damages and approximately $900 as an award for the plaintiffs’ representatives. It also assessed an additional amount of approximately $8,600 in punitive damages unless the company issued a public apology within 15 days of the judgment, which Chevron did not do. On February 17, 2011, the plaintiffs appealed the judgment, seeking increased damages, and on March 11, 2011, Chevron appealed the judgment seeking to have the judgment nullified. On January 3, 2012, an appellate panel in the provincial court affirmed the February 14, 2011 decision and ordered that Chevron pay additional attorneys’ fees in the amount of “0.10% of the values that are derived from the decisional act of this judgment.” The plaintiffs filed a petition to clarify and amplify the appellate decision on January 6, 2012, and the court issued a ruling in response on January 13, 2012, purporting to clarify and amplify its January 3, 2012 ruling, which included clarification that the deadline for the company to issue a public apology to avoid the additional amount of approximately $8,600 in punitive damages was within 15 days of the clarification ruling, or February 3, 2012. Chevron did not issue an apology because doing so might be mischaracterized as an admission of liability and would be contrary to facts and evidence submitted at trial. On January 20, 2012, Chevron appealed (called a petition for cassation) the appellate panel’s decision to Ecuador’s National Court of Justice. As part of the appeal, Chevron requested the suspension of any requirement that Chevron post a bond to prevent enforcement under Ecuadorian law of the judgment during the cassation appeal. On February 17, 2012, the appellate panel of the provincial court admitted Chevron’s cassation appeal in a procedural step necessary for the National Court of Justice to hear the appeal. The provincial court appellate panel denied Chevron’s request for a suspension of the requirement that Chevron post a bond and stated that it would not comply with the First and Second Interim Awards of the international arbitration tribunal discussed on the next page. On March 29, 2012, the matter was transferred from the provincial court to the National Court of Justice, and on November 22, 2012, the National Court agreed to hear Chevron's cassation appeal. On August 3, 2012, the provincial court in Lago Agrio approved a court-appointed liquidator’s report on damages that calculated the total judgment in the case to be $19,100. On November 13, 2013, the National Court ratified the judgment but nullified the $8,600 punitive damage assessment, resulting in a judgment of $9,500. On December 23, 2013, Chevron appealed the decision to the Ecuador Constitutional Court, Ecuador's highest court.
On July 2, 2013, the provincial court in Lago Agrio issued an embargo order in Ecuador ordering that any funds to be paid by the Government of Ecuador to Chevron to satisfy a $96 award issued in an unrelated action by an arbitral tribunal presiding in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague under the Rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law must be paid to the Lago Agrio plaintiffs. The award was issued by the tribunal under the United States-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty in an action filed in 2006 in connection with seven breach of contract cases that Texpet filed against the Government of Ecuador between 1991 and 1993. The Government of Ecuador has appealed the tribunal's award. A Federal District Court for the District of Columbia confirmed the tribunal's award, and the Government of Ecuador has appealed the District Court's decision.
Chevron has no assets in Ecuador and the Lago Agrio plaintiffs' lawyers have stated in press releases and through other media that they will seek to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment in various countries and otherwise disrupt Chevron's operations. On May 30, 2012, the Lago Agrio plaintiffs filed an action against Chevron Corporation, Chevron Canada Limited, and Chevron Canada Finance Limited in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Ontario, Canada, seeking to recognize and enforce the Ecuadorian judgment. On May 1, 2013, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice held that the Court has jurisdiction over Chevron and Chevron Canada Limited for purposes of the action, but stayed the action due to the absence of evidence that Chevron Corporation has assets in Ontario. The Lago Agrio plaintiffs appealed that decision. On December 17, 2013, the Court of Appeals for Ontario affirmed the lower court’s decision on jurisdiction and set aside the stay, allowing the recognition and enforcement action to be heard in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Chevron has appealed the decision concerning jurisdiction to the Supreme Court of Canada and, on January 16, 2014, the Court of Appeals for Ontario granted Chevron’s motion to stay the recognition and enforcement proceeding pending a decision on the admissibility of the Supreme Court appeal.
On June 27, 2012, the Lago Agrio plaintiffs filed an action against Chevron Corporation in the Superior Court of Justice in Brasilia, Brazil, seeking to recognize and enforce the Ecuadorian judgment. On October 15, 2012, the provincial court in Lago Agrio issued an ex parte embargo order that purports to order the seizure of assets belonging to separate Chevron subsidiaries in Ecuador, Argentina and Colombia. On November 6, 2012, at the request of the Lago Agrio plaintiffs, a court in Argentina issued a Freeze Order against Chevron Argentina S.R.L. and another Chevron subsidiary, Ingeniero Nortberto Priu, requiring shares of both companies to be "embargoed," requiring third parties to withhold 40 percent of any payments due to Chevron Argentina S.R.L. and ordering banks to withhold 40 percent of the funds in Chevron Argentina S.R.L. bank accounts. On December 14th, 2012, the Argentinean court rejected a motion to revoke the Freeze Order but modified it by ordering that third parties are not required to withhold funds but must report their payments. The court also clarified that the Freeze Order relating to bank accounts excludes taxes. On January 30, 2013, an appellate court upheld the Freeze Order, but on June 4, 2013 the Supreme Court of Argentina revoked the Freeze Order in its entirety. On December 12, 2013, the Lago Agrio plaintiffs served Chevron with notice of their filing of an enforcement proceeding in the National Court, First Instance, of Argentina. Chevron intends to vigorously defend against the proceeding. Chevron continues to believe the provincial court’s judgment is illegitimate and unenforceable in Ecuador, the United States and other countries. The company also believes the judgment is the product of fraud, and contrary to the legitimate scientific evidence. Chevron cannot predict the timing or ultimate outcome of the appeals process in Ecuador or any enforcement action. Chevron expects to continue a vigorous defense of any imposition of liability in the Ecuadorian courts and to contest and defend any and all enforcement actions.
Chevron and Texpet filed an arbitration claim in September 2009 against the Republic of Ecuador before an arbitral tribunal presiding in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague under the Rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law. The claim alleges violations of the Republic of Ecuador’s obligations under the United States–Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) and breaches of the settlement and release agreements between the Republic of Ecuador and Texpet (described above), which are investment agreements protected by the BIT. Through the arbitration, Chevron and Texpet are seeking relief against the Republic of Ecuador, including a declaration that any judgment against Chevron in the Lago Agrio litigation constitutes a violation of Ecuador’s obligations under the BIT. On February 9, 2011, the Tribunal issued an Order for Interim Measures requiring the Republic of Ecuador to take all measures at its disposal to suspend or cause to be suspended the enforcement or recognition within and without Ecuador of any judgment against Chevron in the Lago Agrio case pending further order of the Tribunal. On January 25, 2012, the Tribunal converted the Order for Interim Measures into an Interim Award. Chevron filed a renewed application for further interim measures on January 4, 2012, and the Republic of Ecuador opposed Chevron’s application and requested that the existing Order for Interim Measures be vacated on January 9, 2012. On February 16,
2012, the Tribunal issued a Second Interim Award mandating that the Republic of Ecuador take all measures necessary (whether by its judicial, legislative or executive branches) to suspend or cause to be suspended the enforcement and recognition within and without Ecuador of the judgment against Chevron and, in particular, to preclude any certification by the Republic of Ecuador that would cause the judgment to be enforceable against Chevron. On February 27, 2012, the Tribunal issued a Third Interim Award confirming its jurisdiction to hear Chevron's arbitration claims. On February 7, 2013, the Tribunal issued its Fourth Interim Award in which it declared that the Republic of Ecuador “has violated the First and Second Interim Awards under the [BIT], the UNCITRAL Rules and international law in regard to the finalization and enforcement subject to execution of the Lago Agrio Judgment within and outside Ecuador, including (but not limited to) Canada, Brazil and Argentina.” The Tribunal has divided the merits phase of the proceeding into three phases. On September 17, 2013, the Tribunal issued its First Partial Award from Phase One, finding that the settlement agreements between the Republic of Ecuador and Texpet applied to Texpet and Chevron, released Texpet and Chevron from claims based on "collective" or "diffuse" rights arising from Texpet's operations in the former concession area and precluded third parties from asserting collective/diffuse rights environmental claims relating to Texpet's operations in the former concession area but did not preclude individual claims for personal harm. Chevron expects that the application of this ruling will be considered by the Tribunal in Phase Two, including a determination whether the claims of the Lago Agrio plaintiffs are individual or collective/diffuse. The Tribunal had set Phase Two to begin on January 20, 2014 to hear Chevron's denial of justice claims, but on January 2, 2014, the Tribunal postponed Phase Two and held a procedural hearing on January 20-21, 2014. The Tribunal set a hearing on April 28-30, 2014 to address remaining issues relating to Phase One. It also set a hearing on April 20 to May 6, 2015 to address Phase Two issues. The Tribunal has not set a date for Phase Three, which will be the damages phase of the arbitration.
Through a series of U.S. court proceedings initiated by Chevron to obtain discovery relating to the Lago Agrio litigation and the BIT arbitration, Chevron obtained evidence that it believes shows a pattern of fraud, collusion, corruption, and other misconduct on the part of several lawyers, consultants and others acting for the Lago Agrio plaintiffs. In February 2011, Chevron filed a civil lawsuit in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York against the Lago Agrio plaintiffs and several of their lawyers, consultants and supporters, alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and other state laws. Through the civil lawsuit, Chevron is seeking relief that includes a declaration that any judgment against Chevron in the Lago Agrio litigation is the result of fraud and other unlawful conduct and is therefore unenforceable. On March 7, 2011, the Federal District Court issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Lago Agrio plaintiffs and persons acting in concert with them from taking any action in furtherance of recognition or enforcement of any judgment against Chevron in the Lago Agrio case pending resolution of Chevron’s civil lawsuit by the Federal District Court. On May 31, 2011, the Federal District Court severed claims one through eight of Chevron’s complaint from the ninth claim for declaratory relief and imposed a discovery stay on claims one through eight pending a trial on the ninth claim for declaratory relief. On September 19, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the preliminary injunction, stayed the trial on Chevron’s ninth claim, a claim for declaratory relief, that had been set for November 14, 2011, and denied the defendants’ mandamus petition to recuse the judge hearing the lawsuit. The Second Circuit issued its opinion on January 26, 2012 ordering the dismissal of Chevron’s ninth claim for declaratory relief. On February 16, 2012, the Federal District Court lifted the stay on claims one through eight, and on October 18, 2012, the Federal District Court set a trial date of October 15, 2013. On March 22, 2013, Chevron settled its claims against Stratus Consulting, and on April 12, 2013 sworn declarations by representatives of Stratus Consulting were filed with the Court admitting their role and that of the plaintiffs' attorneys in drafting the environmental report of the mining engineer appointed by the provincial court in Lago Agrio. On September 26, 2013, the Second Circuit denied the defendants' Petition for Writ of Mandamus to recuse the judge hearing the case and to collaterally estop Chevron from seeking a declaration that the Lago Agrio judgment was obtained through fraud and other unlawful conduct. The trial commenced on October 15, 2013 and concluded on November 22, 2013. Post-trial briefing has concluded, but no decision has been rendered by the Federal District Court as of the date of this report.
The ultimate outcome of the foregoing matters, including any financial effect on Chevron, remains uncertain. Management does not believe an estimate of a reasonably possible loss (or a range of loss) can be made in this case. Due to the defects associated with the Ecuadorian judgment, the 2008 engineer’s report on alleged damages and the September 2010 plaintiffs’ submission on alleged damages, management does not believe these documents have any utility in calculating a reasonably possible loss (or a range of loss). Moreover, the highly uncertain legal environment surrounding the case provides no basis for management to estimate a reasonably possible loss (or a range of loss).