Chevron Corporation and Texaco Petroleum Corporation v. Ecuador (PCA Case No. 34877, also referred to as PCA Case No. 2009-23)  


Author: Chinmay Oza, a student at Symbiosis Law School, Pune

Facts of the case 

Case Overview

Chevron seeks to hold the Republic of Ecuador accountable for failing to provide Chevron with justice in an international arbitration tribunal in The Hague, as outlined in the US-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty and overseen by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.


  1. Chevron has never carried out activities in Ecuador. 
  2. Texaco Petroleum (TexPet), acquired by Chevron in 2001, was a minor participant in a joint oil production venture in Ecuador with Petroecuador, the national oil company, from 1964 to 1992. 
  3. Following the agreement with Ecuador in 1992, TexPet transferred its remaining stake in oil operations to Petroecuador. TexPet then cleaned specific production sites, while Petroecuador agreed to handle any further remediation needed. 
  4. The Ecuadorian government supervised and officially approved TexPet’s successful cleanup efforts, absolving TexPet of any further environmental responsibilities. 
  5. Despite its promises, Petroecuador did not do the cleanup it said it would. It has been operating and growing its oil activities in the old concession area for the last two decades.” 

Case Developments

  1. “The US District Court for the Southern District of New York declared on March 4, 2014, that the $9.5 Billion Ecuadorian judgment was invalid due to fraud and racketeering, making it impossible to enforce.” 
  2. “The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously affirmed this decision on August 8, 2016.” 
  3. “The appeals court accused Steven Donzinger, the leading American attorney in the Ecuador case against the company, and his team of participating in a series of corrupt behaviors like coercion, fraud, and bribery.” 
  4. “Chevron filed a RICO lawsuit in U.S. federal court against Steven Donzinger, the American Lawyer involved in the Ecuador Case, and his colleagues to demonstrate that the ruling was obtained through fraud.” 

Tribunal Rulings

  1. “The court has previously established that Ecuador pardoned TexPet and Chevron for any public interest or collective environmental legal actions through agreements in the 1990s.” 
  2. “The attorneys for the plaintiffs in Lago Agrio have acknowledged multiple times, and the relief outlined in the judgment highlights that their claims are communal and not personal.” 
  3. “The tribunal issued a Second Interim Award in February 2012, directing the Republic and all its branches, including the judiciary, to take all necessary actions to prevent the enforcement or recognition of the Lago Agrio judgment, domestically and internationally.” 
  4. “In September 2009, Chevron started a legal process against Ecuador based on the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) due to violations of contract terms from agreements with TexPet in 1995 and 1998 and breaches of BIT obligations.” 
  5. “On September 18, 2013, the international arbitration tribunal granted a Partial Award in favor of Chevron and its subsidiary, Texaco Petroleum Company (TexPet). The Tribunal determined that the Settlement and Release Agreements between the government of Ecuador and TexPet absolved TexPet and its affiliates from any responsibility for all public interest or collective environmental claims.”
  6. “The international arbitration tribunal declared on February 7, 2013, that the Republic of Ecuador violated its previous interim awards by not preventing the attempted enforcement of an $18 billion judgment against Chevron. In earlier rulings, the tribunal cautioned the Republic that if Chevron’s arbitration is approved, the Republic could be held accountable for any losses incurred from enforcing the Lago Agrio judgment according to international law.”
  7. “Chevron is currently engaged in a legal battle to demonstrate that the judgment was based on fraudulent means. The court has already decided in Chevron’s favor, absolving them of any responsibility for environmental lawsuits. The case is still being contested and litigated in courts globally.”

Issues of the Case

  1. Can the Investor-State tribunal legally have authority over individuals not directly in the case, like the Ecuadorian plaintiffs, and take away their decision against Chevron? 
  2. Is it possible for the tribunal’s decision to ignore Ecuador’s human rights and force Ecuadorian courts to breach those duties by interfering with the plaintiff’s legal choices?
  3. Is it fair for the tribunal’s decisions to be enforced in other countries, preventing the Ecuadorian plaintiffs from collecting their judgment against Chevron? 


  1. The BIT between the United States and Ecuador includes a mechanism for investor-state arbitration to address disagreements involving American investors such as Chevron
  2. Ecuador must abide by any commitments made to investments as required by Article II (7) of the BIT. 
  3. Article VI of the BIT authorizes the tribunal to issue awards prohibiting the parties from engaging in any actions that violate the treaty’s obligations. 
  4. New York Convention: The treaty deals with the acknowledgment and implementation of foreign arbitration decisions. Both Ecuador and the United States have signed the agreement. 
  5. “The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was used by Chevron to file a lawsuit against Steven Donzinger, the American Lawyer involved in Ecuador’s Lawsuit, and his colleagues, accusing them of fraud and racketeering.” 
  6. Ecuadorian legislation requires companies in Ecuador to comply with environmental and social responsibilities outlined in the Constitution, laws, and the Environmental Management Act. 
  7. “Ecuador is required by international human rights law to safeguard the rights of its people, such as ensuring access to justice and a clean environment.” 

Analysis of both parties’ views

Chevron’s view: 


  1. The Judicial system in Ecuador is dishonest and unfair, and the $9.5 Billion verdict against Chevron was achieved through deception and illegal activities. 
  2. Ecuador’s government and Judiciary did not uphold contractual exemptions and guarantees that were supposed to shield Chevron from legal responsibility. 
  3. The Ecuadorian plaintiffs’ arguments are invalid due to time constraints and lack of proof of causation since Chevron’s subsidiary, TexPet, had already addressed its part of the environmental damage. 
  4. Ecuador’s Judiciary has disregarded the proof and legal precedents, making the ruling unenforceable under the New York Convention and RICO regulations. 


  1. Chevron possesses a compelling argument according to international law, specifically the U.S. – Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), which safeguards investors against unjust treatment and confiscation. 
  2. The Company has obtained positive decisions from international tribunals and U.S. courts, such as the Permanent Court of Arbitration in “The Hague and the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.” 
  3. Chevron contends that it has met its environmental and social obligations in Ecuador, and the legal proceedings against the company have been unjust and discriminatory. 

Ecuador’s view: 


  1. Chevron is trying to avoid accountability for the environmental and social harm caused by its activities in Ecuador.
  2. The company is leveraging its economic strength and sway to control legal processes and bully Ecuador’s government and courts.
  3. Chevrons’ actions in Ecuador have resulted in irreversible damage to the environment and communities, and they should face the consequences of their actions.
  4. The U.S.-Ecuador BIT must uphold Ecuador’s sovereignty and human rights responsibilities in safeguarding its people and environment.


  1. “Ecuador’s argument is supported by international human rights law and environmental law due to Chevron’s actions’ notable environmental and social consequences.”
  2. The country’s courts have made a lawful decision against Chevron, which Ecuador’s Supreme Court has confirmed, and the company must honor Ecuador’s legal system.
  3. Ecuador claims that Chevron has caused lasting harm to the environment and nearby communities and insists that the company offer appropriate reparation and restoration.

Critical Analysis

  1. Both sides present valid points and critiques, illustrating the intricacies of international investment law, human rights, and environmental law. 
  2. Chevron’s claims of fraud and corruption in Ecuador’s judiciary are worrying. However, it is essential still to honor Ecuador’s sovereignty and human rights duties. 
  3. Ecuador has valid environmental and social concerns against Chevron. However, the company’s contractual exemptions and protections should also be considered. 
  4. The situation demonstrates the unequal power distribution between corporations and states and between corporations and local communities. Chevron has used its economic and legal power to influence the legal system and scare Ecuador’s governments and courts. 
  5. The situation highlights the unequal treatment in global investment law, with companies shielded from government control and legal rulings while governments are responsible for violating investors’ rights.
  6. The situation underscores the absence of openness and responsibility in global investment law, with tribunals and courts frequently placing corporate interests above public interests and human rights. 
  7. The case shows how corporate activities often pass on substantial environmental and social expenses to local communities and the environment. 
  8. The situation calls for a thoughtful and fair strategy that considers the concerns of all parties involved and the communities affected while guaranteeing justice and accountability. 
  9. The case highlights the importance of changing International Law to prioritize state sovereignty, human rights, and environmental protection above corporate interests. 


The ongoing legal dispute between Chevron and the Republic of Ecuador has highlighted the intricate nature of international investment law, environmental issues, and human rights responsibilities. “Chevron claims it has met its obligations and is unfairly singled out by a fraudulent legal procedure, citing the protection of the U.S. – Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). However, Ecuador maintains its sovereign authority to hold Chevron responsible for environmental and social harm resulting from its predecessor’s conduct.” 

The case showcases a conflict between corporate interests and state sovereignty, revealing the power dynamics within global investment law. Chevron’s claim of deceit and misconduct in Ecuador’s court system brings up valid worries about the honesty of legal procedures. Nevertheless, these considerations must be weighed against Ecuador’s responsibility to uphold the rights of its people and preserve the environment. 

The tribunal judgments, especially those clearing Chevron of accountability in environmental legal cases, highlight communities’ obstacles in striving for justice against influential companies. The power imbalance among corporations, states, and local communities is clear, as indicated by Chevron’s use of its economic and legal strength to impact legal processes. 

The situation triggers a thorough review of global investment regulations and their impact on human rights and the environment. It demands a just and impartial strategy focusing on fairness, responsibility, and the welfare of impacted communities. In the future, it is crucial to update global legal structures to prevent corporate interests from prioritizing nation sovereignty and the rights of individuals and the environment. 

In summary, the Chevron – Ecuador case highlights the difficulties and obstacles that arise when law, economies, and environmental protection come together. It highlights the need for the legal system to adapt in a way that considers the concerns of all parties while also maintaining justice, accountability, and sustainability. 


  1. What is the background of the Chevron vs. Ecuador case?

This case involves Chevron’s legal dispute with Ecuador over environmental liabilities related to Texaco Petroleum’s former operations in Ecuador from 1964 to 1992, which Chevron acquired in 2001.

  1. What were the key rulings in the legal battle between Chevron and Ecuador?

Chevron won multiple international tribunal rulings under the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), absolving Texaco Petroleum (TexPet) from further environmental liabilities in Ecuador.

  1. Why did Chevron claim the $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgment was invalid?

Chevron argued that the Ecuadorian judgment was obtained through fraud and corruption, which U.S. courts supported by declaring the judgment unenforceable.

  1. What international legal mechanisms did Chevron use against Ecuador?

Chevron utilized investor-state arbitration under the U.S.-Ecuador BIT to challenge Ecuador’s judiciary and prevent international enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment.

  1. What environmental and social concerns were raised against Chevron in Ecuador?

Ecuador alleges that Chevron’s operations caused significant environmental and social damage in the affected regions, demanding reparations and ecological remediation.

  1. How does the Chevron vs. Ecuador case illustrate the power dynamics in international investment law?

The case highlights the imbalance between corporate interests, state sovereignty, and local community rights, where powerful corporations like Chevron can influence legal outcomes through economic and legal leverage.

  1. What are the implications of this case for international investment law and corporate accountability?

This case underscores the need to balance investor protections with environmental and human rights responsibilities, prompting calls for reforms in global investment regulations to ensure fairness and accountability.

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