"Ecuador Court Orders Chevron To Pay $8.6 Billion"

"LAGO AGRIO, Ecuador -- A court in Ecuador's Amazon told Chevron Corp on Monday to pay $8.6 billion in environmental damages, but the U.S. oil company vowed to fight on in a lawsuit seen as a global test case.

Chevron said it would appeal, meaning the case, which dates from drilling in the Andean nation during the 1970s and 1980s, could drag on.

The legal battle has spawned accusations of dirty tricks and bribery. Activists portray it as a fight for justice against rich polluters, but Chevron says it is driven more by opportunism and greedy trial lawyers. It has triggered related legal action in U.S. courts and international arbitration.

The court gave Chevron 15 days to apologize publicly for the contamination or face doubling of the damages figure."

Victor Gomez reports for Reuters February 14, 2011.

Source: Reuters, 02/15/2011