Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Peru spares Amazon rainforest from oil and gas push

David Hill in the Andes to Amazon blog in the Guardian (UK): Peru has announced a bidding round for new oil and gas concessions but, contrary to what was initially expected, none of them are in the Amazon rainforest. Nine concessions are to be auctioned, energy company Perupetro declared recently, but all of them are offshore along Peru's Pacific Ocean coast.

This constitutes a significant change of plan by Perupetro which last September issued a statement that before the end of 2012 36 new concessions would be established. According to a presentation made to the World Heavy Oil Congress in Aberdeen in Scotland the same month, 27 of these concessions – totaling millions of hectares – would be in the Amazon.

...Perupetro's new chairman, Luis Ortiga Cuneo, who took over from Ortiz in December, told Peruvian press the reason for the postponement was a 'prior consultation law' approved by Congress in 2011. The law's stated aim is to give "indigenous or native peoples" the right to be previously consulted about development projects or "administrative or legislative" measures affecting their collective rights to their "quality of life, cultural identity or physical existence."

...Amazon Watch's Andrew Miller, currently in Peru, says the "sustained campaigns of local indigenous communities, their federations and international allies appear to have changed the government's calculus. Whereas in the past they promoted the oil rounds to international companies without advising communities, now they have to comply with the consultation law."

But others remain extremely skeptical. "The government has been granting concessions without doing consultations for 40 years and it'll be difficult to change now," says Jesus Castro Suarez, from Lima-based NGO Eco-Dess. "I suspect they'll find some legal device to avoid consulting people. This can't or shouldn't be described as a civil society victory."...

Amazon Rainforest, seen from the Alto Madre de Dios river, in Peru, shot by Martin St-Amant (S23678), Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license


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