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Resistance to Chevron-YPF Fracking, Argentina

At the beginning of 2016 over 500 shale wells were operative, making this community one of the areas in the world most affected by fracking, outside the USA.


Significant deposits of shale oil and gas were discovered in Neuquén province in the Loma de Lata field in 2010, adding to Argentina's overall shale reserves which are estimated to be the second largest technically recoverable reserves in the world. The country ranks fourth in the same category for shale oil. Argentina’s Vaca Muerta shale formation, also in Neuquén, is estimated to hold an amount of oil and gas nearly equal to the reserves of the world’s largest oil company, Exxon Mobil. The country  has over 150 shale wells in production, more than any country in the world aside from the U.S. and China (4) Argentina has claimed all oil and gas fields as government land but exploration and exploitation permits and the final product are in control of the provinces and extraction companies. Argentina's environmental protection regulatory frameworks have been criticized for being weak, with one key area for concern fresh water use and waste. Another concern regarding fracking is its potential to contribute to earthquakes in a part of Argentina experiencing increasing volcanic activity (4). On June 15th, 2013 Chevron signed an agreement with the newly state-controlled YPF (formally controlled by Spain’s Repsol) in Argentina to begin resource extraction anew in the region of Neuquén (3). The pilot stage of the project involves 1.24 billion invested for 161 wells drilled in a 20 sq km area. The second phase of the extraction project would involve 1500 more wells in a 395 sq km region. Chevron and YPF hope that 50,000 barrels of oil and 3 million cubic meters of associated natural gas could be produced daily from the project (1). The Vaca Muerta region might contain as much as 23 billion barrels of oil, according to a YPF-released report (6). There has been a court-ordered probe into suspected irregularities in the YPF-Chevron agreement. A court in May 2014 began to investigate President Cristina Fernandez, who is accused of abusing her authority regarding the YPF-Chevron agreement. While a lower court had dismissed the charges, a federal appellate court in Buenos Aires overruled this decision.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Resistance to Chevron-YPF Fracking, Argentina
State or province:Neuquén province, wall mapu territory
Location of conflict:Mapuche Community Campo Maripe, among others
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Shale gas fracking
Specific commodities:Land
Natural Gas
Crude oil
Shale oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

-Area of ​​395 km2 whose limits overlap with the territory of the Campo Maripe Mapuche indigenous community.

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Project area:395 km2
Level of Investment for the conflictive project2.480.000.000 (monto inicial anunciado por YPF y Chevron en partes iguales)
Type of populationUnknown
Affected Population:599,683
Start of the conflict:15/05/2013
Company names or state enterprises:Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales (YPF Argentina) from Argentina - partner with Chevron Corp.
Dow Chemical Company (Dow) from United States of America - also partnering with YPF in region
Chevron Polska Energy Resources Sp. z o.o. from United States of America
Relevant government actors:MPN party (Neuquén's government)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Obervatorio Petrolero Sur (OPSur);
Neuquén Platform Against Fracking;
Mapuche Confederation
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Trade unions
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Fires, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills, Other Environmental impacts, Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Accidents, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsheavy mental poisoning
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Other socio-economic impacts, Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsHouses of Mapuche activists burnt down in retaliation for their involvement in protests
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Court decision (undecided)
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:Mapuche authorities and local organizations are asking for proper consultation regarding resource extraction projects in accordance with the International Labour Organization Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (ILO 169), ratified by Argentina in 2000. Currently, Argentina is violating this convention.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Though resistance is ongoing, the damages already done to the environment and lives of the Mapuche people and other inhabitants of Neuquén are severe.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

International Labour Organization Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (Convention 169) Article 6 (1a) "governments shall consult the peoples concerned, througha ppropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions, whenever consideration is being given to legislative or administrative measures which may affect them directly".

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

2. Anti-fracking Mobilization Suppressed and Indigenous Houses Burnt Due to Resistance Over Chevron-YPF Agreement (article)
[click to view]

3. El Fracking Vaca Muerta Chevron y la Resistencia Mapuche (article in Spanish)
[click to view]

1. Argentina-YPF Defends Partnership With Chevron in Wake of Court Ruling (article)
[click to view]

4. Argentina Indymedia news article
[click to view]

4. Fracking Frenzy: How the Fracking Industry is Threatening the Planet? A report on fracking in the global south.

5. El Pueblo Mapuche: La Dignidad en Medio del Petroleo
[click to view]

6. Chevron to Invest 1.6 Billion with YPF in Argentina Shale Wells (Bloomberg article)
[click to view]
[click to view]

Mapuexpress - Campo Maripe, el resurgir mapuche en medio del avance petrolero
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Lena Weber, Lund University Human Ecology Department
Last update14/06/2018
Conflict ID:1695
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