Twenty years ago natural gas was discovered deep in the Amazon jungle. In August, President Alejandro Toledo inaugurated the US$1.6bn project to pipe it across the Andes and up the Pacific coast to Lima. The reserves are expected to bring in US$8 bn over the next 40 years and create 14,000 new jobs. The press has heralded this project as a milestone in energy provision. not only is it a foreign cash earner but provides a much cheaper source of power for Peruvians.
Nearly 75 percent of gas extraction operations are located inside a State Reserve for indigenous peoples living with little or no contact with the outside world. Critics of Camisea say that irreversible damage has been done to the pristine jungle and that indigenous tribes are threatened by diseases introduced by workers.
In fact, the companies managing Camisea were fined for violations including crossing into a protected reserve without authorization and leaving cleared areas exposed to heavy rains, thereby causing environmental hazards.
The gas pipeline runs 714km to Lima and a second pipeline for liquids will run 540km ending at Pisco. President Toledo said: “Thanks to Camisea, Peru will go from being an energy importer to a country that exports energy overseas”. He also said that Camisea will add one percentage point to Peru’s GDP.