Chevron asks Ecuador judge to clarify ruling

LAGO AGRIO, Ecuador Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:02am EST

LAGO AGRIO, Ecuador (Reuters) - Lawyers for Chevron Corp on Thursday requested clarification of a recent court ruling in Ecuador that ordered the U.S. oil company to pay $8.6 billion in damages for contaminating the Amazon.

Indigenous farmers in Ecuador's jungle region say the company is responsible for polluting a Rhode Island-sized swath of the rainforest through faulting drilling practices in the 1970s and 1980s.

Judge Nicolas Zambrano of Sucumbios provincial court on Monday ruled that Chevron contaminated the jungle. He ordered the California-based company to pay the $8.6 billion, one of the biggest environmental judgments ever.

"Chevron presented at 8 am today its request for Judge Zambrano to clarify and expound upon specific points of his February 14 ruling," company spokesman James Craig told Reuters.

Zambrano will start to study the 31-page request on Monday, court officials told Reuters.

Chevron says it not responsible and that the 17-year-old legal saga is being driven more by greedy trial lawyers than concern for the environment. The company vows to appeal Zambrano's February 14 decision and fight enforcement.

Lawyers for the 47 named plaintiffs in the lawsuit meanwhile say they will file papers later on Thursday before a three-judge panel at Sucumbios court in the remote jungle town of Lago Agrio to try to increase the damages award.