Nuevo Mundo headquarters of controversial project

Oct 09, 2001 02:00 AM

Peruvian construction workers take a break by a tractor, which they are using to clear out an area along the Rio Urubamba. The area will become a base of operations for pipeline construction. We entered a whole new world. Literally.
After days of waiting at the Machiguenga Wildlife Lodge for the rain to let up, it finally did. We loaded up a motorboat, and we've been working our way down the Rio Urubamba ever since.

Our boat dropped us off in an enormous jungle clearing on the side of the river. Men walked around in the steamy heat, wearing bright orange jumpsuits and hard hats. A helicopter sat next to a small village of white trailers. A moustached man in jeans greeted us, took us into an air-conditioned trailer and served us cold sparkling water. A radio played classic rock. I flushed a toilet for the first time.

This was Nuevo Mundo -- Spanish for "New World" -- the headquarters of a controversial project to deliver natural gas from the Amazonian jungle through an underground pipelineto Lima, Peru, about 450 miles away. Peru's only supply of natural gas lies near here, thousands of feet underground in an area called Camisea. A consortium of companies, which includes Hunt Oil in America and PlusPetrol in Argentina, has invested more than $ 26 bn in the project.

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