After years of public complaints and outcry, a Canadian oil and gas company has chosen to halt a huge concession in the Peruvian Amazon which was seen as a threat to uncontacted indigenous tribes.
The concession has provoked opposition in Peru and just across the border in Brazil for many years, including regular statements since 2009 from indigenous Matsés people in both countries and a lawsuit recently filed by regional indigenous federation ORPIO. Both Lot 135 and the park overlap territory used by the Matsés and a proposed reserve for indigenous people living in “isolation,” reported The Guardian.
The Independent reported Pacific Exploration and Production, who began its first phase of oil exploration back in 2012, was previously awarded the right to explore for oil in a large area of the region which contains massive biodiversity. It is thought to be home to more uncontacted tribes than anywhere else in the world.
The concession, referred to as Lot 135, includes around 40 per cent of the Sierra del Divisor national park, which was founded in 2015.
The concession stretches for more than one million hectares and is estimated to hold deposits of almost one billion barrels of oil. It has led to massive resistance in Peru and Brazil for almost a decade.
“Oil exploration requires continued and consistent invasion of land which has the ability to drastically increase the risk of forced contact with uncontacted tribes. It makes the tribes more likely to experience violence from outsiders who commandeer their land and resources and vulnerable to illnesses such as flu and measles which they have no resistance towards,” said The Independent.
The firm’s decision to pull the concession was first revealed by Survival International, an NGO based in the UK. In a letter dated 13 March 2017, Institutional Relations and Sustainability Manager Alejandro Jimenez Ramirez told the charity the company would be relinquishing its exploration plans. The last day of Pacific’s contract is said to have been 17 March.
“As you may know, the company has a new management and post evaluations of current opportunities, it has made the decision to relinquish its exploration rights in Block 135 and return the block to Perupetro [the Peruvian state entity responsible for establishing concessions and contracting companies] effective immediately,” he said.
“To date legal processes are underway. . . [W]e wish to reiterate the company’s commitment to conduct its operations under the highest sustainability and human rights guidelines, avoiding damages to cultures and their surroundings; a value promise we feel remains intact.”
The concession still exists, so another company could be brought in to take over the project. It is important to get lot 135 annulled to protect the water, land, people and animals of the area. More pressure is needed from the resistance in order to have the lot annulled and the people protected.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)