A judge in Ecuador's Amazon has slapped a fine on U.S. oil behemoth Chevron for polluting rainforests and rivers there, in a case that oil companies and industry analysts are watching closely because of the precedent it could set for other lawsuits against companies accused of contaminating the countries in which they do business. But since the judge's action is a waypoint during decades worth of litigation, the story is mostly getting attention because of the big numbers in headlines, so here's a rundown:
$8.6 billion - How much the court in Ecuador says Chevron owes. If Chevron pays up, it would be one of the largest environmental awards ever, according to The New York Times.
$19 billion - How much the judge has threatened to demand from Chevron if the oil giant doesn't publicly apologize for its actions and end the case within 15 days
$19 billion - Chevron's net profit in 2010
17 Years - How long the case has been dragging on. Marketplace reports that villagers in northern Ecuador initially sued Texaco in the 1990s, blaming sicknesses and destroyed land and water on Texaco's oil drilling during the 1970s and 1980s, but Chevron scooped up Texaco in 2001. And the legal battle
is unlikely to end anytime soon. Chevron plans on appealing and has
been gathering evidence for years--"with pen microphones and other spy
tactics"--of corruption in the case.
$96.95 - The price at which Chevron shares
closed yesterday. The stock rose because of gains in crude oil and
because analysts don't expect a a final verdict in the case any time soon, Reuters says.