Peru natives oppose oil exploration by Petrobras in Amazon

Mar 12, 2009 01:00 AM

As many 100 native communities will oppose any start by Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras of explorations in the very northern Peruvian side of the Amazon, right along the border with Ecuador and Colombia, native community leaders said.
The Aidesep organization based in Lima which represents tens of thousands of members of native American populations in Peru, some of them in self-determined isolation, and is led by natives, said that the natives reject any government oil permit and are ready to defend their area from any oil activity. The statement said that the natives believe that any government oil permit for their land "is an attack against life, rivers and the environment."

The area is included in a map of oil exploration areas by the state-run royalty and licensing agency Perupetro as block area 117. Perupetro says the area was given in concession in 2006. Exploration there is still at a very preliminary stage, according to past reports.
Peruvian natives have long dealt with some of the ugly side of oil production in the Amazon such as water pollution resulting from discharges. Some groups claim that studies of water and blood levels reveal poisoning. Oil companies operating in the northern Amazon have done much work in recent years -- and after negotiations with native communities -- to re-inject water used in production into crude oil wells.

The Peruvian government has told natives it has in place an environment ministry in addition to an environment regulator. It also requires environmental impact studies where approvals depend on votes by nearby communities.
Additionally, there are in the country areas where any oil prospecting is banned. Peruvian government officials have said those protections are enough.

Petrobras is also exploring other areas of Peru particularly in the south-eastern Amazon relatively near the Camisea fields where it is looking for natural gas.
In this region it has one block area by itself and a second in a partnership with Spain's Repsol-YPF.

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