Ecuador is one of the largest oil producing countries in South America. Lago Agrio is it’s principal oil town – it’s ‘black gold’ capital. An urban island in the depths of the Amazon rain forest, Lago was named after an oil well in Alaska known as ‘Sour Lake’.
The town grew up out of virgin jungle in the late 1960’s when Texaco discovered vast reserves of crude in the region. In its thirsting quest for the oil, the company acted like a band of conquistadores, operating with blatant disregard for the local environment and indigenous communities. Hidden from the eyes of the world by the thick jungle curtain, the company caused irreparable ecological destruction and displaced, or annihilated, thousands of Amerindians.
Revenues from the oil industry account for nearly half the government budget in Ecuador. But despite the hundreds of thousands of barrels flowing out of Lago Agrio every day, pumped along one, vast pipeline over the Andean mountains and down to the sea for export, the town receives minimal investment from the state.