Michael Wirth
Michael Wirth

New Chevron chief Michael Wirth faces pressure from a consortium of institutional investors to open "a new path forward in dialogue with shareholders” to address issues such as the potential $12B acquired liability of Texaco pollution in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

“Instead of negotiating an expedient, fair and comprehensive settlement with the affected communities in Ecuador, Chevon management pursued a costly legal strategy that has continued for more than two decades,” the consortium wrote in an April 30 letter to Wirth, who became CEO on Feb. 1.

In 2013, Ecuador’s highest court ordered a $9.5B judgment (now $12B including interest) against Chevron, which acquired Texaco in 2001.

Chevron maintains the Ecuadorian judgment was secured through fraud and deceit. US District Court (New York) backed Chevron and its decision was upheld in appeal.

The oil giant has waged legal battles over Ecuador in Brazil, Argentina and Canada, where Chevron remains a defendant.

Organized by Newground Social Investment and Zevin Asset Management, the investment group seeks a meeting with Wirth, which "would set the right tone for you to broaden the existing conversation by engaging directly in constructive dialogue with investors."

The group also wants to discuss political and human rights issues affecting operations in Nigeria and Burma, along with the “existential threat of climate change.”

The consortium of 36 institutional investors includes Calvert Research and Management, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Unitarian Universalist Assn., Mercy Health, Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, Priests of the Sacred Heart, Shareholder Assn. for Research and Education, Impact Investors and United Methodist Women.