Oil Firm Criticised for Peru Operations

16 April 2012

In mid-April American NGO E-Tech International published a highly critical report of the operations of Anglo-French oil firm Perenco in Loreto, northern Peru.

The report claims the company’s activities in Lot 67 are damaging the surrounding area and have had negative impacts on indigenous communities living nearby.

Perenco is currently seeking approval to expand its Loreto operations. However, such plans faced a setback in February this year when the Ministry for Energy and Mines (MEM) rejected an EIA submitted by the firm.

The Lot 67 project has long faced opposition from a number of indigenous organisations including AIDESEP (Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest) and ORPIO (Organisation of Indigenous Peoples of the Oriente). AIDESEP has called for the area to be declared an indigenous reserve, but the company is reported not to have responded to this.

In a recent report INDEPA (Peru’s Indigenous Affairs Department) claimed that Perenco’s activities in Loreto threatened a number of ‘uncontacted’ indigenous groups living there. There are estimated to be fifteen such groups in Peru, most of which are located in the country’s south-eastern area. Campaigners have warned that any contact with the external parties could put them at risk, as they highly vulnerable to diseases brought in from outside their communities.

Perenco has repeatedly denied that any ‘uncontacted’ peoples are living in the region, saying that there is no evidence to support such a claim. It has also refused to comment on the INDEPA report, which recommended that the company re-write its Anthropological Contingency Plan.

Lot 67 is estimated to contain up to 300m barrels of oil. If successfully exploited, the deposit could transform Peru from a net importer to a net exporter of oil.

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