Survival International reports that a reserve for uncontacted tribes in the Peruvian Amazon has been made off-limits to oil and gas companies. The majority of the reserve had been previously open to exploration by Brazilian company Petrobras, in an area known as ‘Lot 110’. The reserve is inhabited by some of the world’s last uncontacted indigenous people, a tribe known as the Murunahua (or Chitonahua), the organisation explains.

However, the announcement, which was made by the state oil and gas licensing agency Perúpetro, during a roadshow presentation in London on May 21, came as the agency opened up 25 new blocks for oil and gas exploration and exploitation, covering some 10 million hectares and located mainly in the country’s Amazon region.

While 24 of the exploration blocks are located in the Marañón-Ucayali river basins and in the southeastern region of Madre de Dios, only one block is situated in a coastal area in Lambayeque and Piura regions, north-western Peru.

Besides London, Perúpetro has also made presentations in Houston (United States), Paris (France) and Cartagena (Colombia).

Indigenous Organisations Oppose Auction
Peruvian indigenous rights organisation AIDESEP (Asociación Interetnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana) has qualified the bid process as “a new provocation against indigenous peoples”.

According to AIDESEP, Perúpetro lost credibility following a corruption scandal surrounding the granting of oil concessions which implicated members of the APRA party. Allegations arose in October 2008 when audio tapes surfaced in which oil executive Alberto Químper of Perúpetro and APRA member Rómulo León Alegría allegedly discussed payoffs related to new oil concessions involving Norwegian oil company Discover Petroleum.

The allegations, which the Norwegian company denied, led to the resignation of President Alan García’s entire Cabinet at the time. The case is still under investigation.