Monday, July 1, 2013

Repsol to drill for oil in Amazon rainforest in Peru

David Hill in the Andes to the Amazon blog in the Guardian (UK): Repsol has been given the go-ahead by Peru's ministry of energy and mines (MEM) to explore for oil in one "protected" and one proposed reserve in the north of the country in the remote Amazon rainforest bordering Ecuador. According to an environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the company's plans initially submitted to MEM in 2011 and approved this month, exploration will involve 3D seismic tests across a 680sqkm area and drilling at least 21 wells.

Although Repsol doesn't acknowledge it, all the tests and 20 of the 21 wells fall within a proposed reserve for indigenous peoples who live in what Peruvian law calls "voluntary isolation" and are extremely vulnerable to any kind of contact with outsiders. The creation of this reserve was proposed by regional indigenous organisation ORAI in 2003 in order to protect the region and prohibit loggers, miners and oil and gas companies - like Repsol - from operating there.

Last December the Inter-American Development Bank agreed to give $1m to Peru with the stated aim of protecting the country's "isolated" indigenous peoples – some of which was scheduled to be spent on turning the proposed reserve in this region into a real one.

In 2007 national indigenous organisation AIDESEP appealed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to help stop Repsol, but Peru's ministry of justice and human rights is casting doubt on the "isolated" peoples' existence and urging the IACHR to close the case...

A floating island on Lake Titicaca in Peru, shot by, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license

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