Indigenous groups in the Peruvian Amazon threaten to occupy newly appearing oil wells

August 26, 2009

Indigenous groups in the Peruvian Amazon threaten to occupy newly appearing oil wells
Hunt Oil Company takes over almost 4 million acres in jungle.

Earl Gilman, El Nuevo Topo

Indigenous groups in the Peruvian Amazon are threatening to occupy the oil wells that are now appearing in the Amazonian jungle. The indigenous groups claim the government is not negotiating with them, despite the murder of more than 30 people in Bagua in June. Instead, the government has been meeting with a few self-appointed indigenous leaders who are amenable to the government.

In the last 2 months the Hunt Oil Company, based in Texas, has taken over almost 4 million acres (1 million 500 thousand hectacres) in the jungle. So far they have only built one heliport, but the company plans 166 heliports in the area, together with corresponding mobile encampments as well as 1948 unloading zones. There has been a fall in tourism, with the hiring of 600 workers by the company, farmers are abandoning their lands and there has been an increase in the price of food.

The Hunt Oil Company also is drilling oil wells in Kurdistan in Iraq, signing agreements with local warloads.

The Hunt Oil Company is privately owned by the Hunt Family. Roy L. Hunt, CEO, is also on the Board of Directors of Pepsico Co. and a former director of Halliburton Co. He is former chairman of the Federal Reserve of Dallas. In 2001 he was appointed by President Bush to Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board with security clearance. He contributed 35 million dollars to the George W, Bush Presidential Library.

The Hunt Oil Company also has built 2 pipelines for delivering liquefied natural gas to the U.S. West Coast, investing 2.6 billion dollars, cutting through the Amazon to the coast to deliver gas from the Camisea field. After the pipeline was built, there were three major spills.

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Climate and Capitalism, August 7, 2009

Peru plans more Amazon oil auctions

Despite violent protests by indigenous groups over plans to expand oil and gas exploration in the Peru’s Amazon rainforest, energy investments in the South American country are expected to increase to $1.5 billion in both 2009 and 2010, reports Reuters.

Daniel Saba, president of Perupetro, Peru’s energy agency, told Reuters that the government will auction more than a dozen lots in October or November. Most of the 17 blocks are located in the country’s Amazon region, 70 percent of which has been concessioned for oil and gas exploration and development. A number of firms are already operating in the area including Repsol (Spain), Perenco (France), Pluspetrol (Argentina), Petrobras (Brazil), Maple Energy (United States), and Petroperu (Peru). South American Explorations, working on behalf of the U.S.-based Hunt Oil, launched exploration activities in a million-acre area in the Madre De Dios region late last month, according to local sources.

Indigenous groups have fiercely opposed what they see as encroachment on their traditional lands. In May thousands of protesters blocked roadways and rivers in opposition to a set of presidential decrees that would have made it easier for foreign firms to develop Amazon land. President Alan Garcia responded by sending in federal police, quickly leading to a heated standoff that ended in bloodshed when 34 police and protesters were killed. The escalation was widely condemned by human rights groups and environmentalists.

Garcia has since rescinded two of the most controversial decrees and shuffled his cabinet. But Saba’s remarks to Reuters indicate that Peru intends to move forward on oil and gas development despite the controversy.

Green groups and indigenous rights’ organizations say the rainforests slotted for oil and gas exploration is home to a wealth of biodiversity and “uncontacted” tribes. The Peruvian government maintains there is but a single isolated tribe and that development will bring vast sums to the treasury.

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Meanwhile, it has come out that Mercedes Cabanillas, Peru’s former Interior Minister had ordered the deadly June 5 police attack on an indigenous people’s peaceful blockade of a major highway,  resulting in at least 33 deaths of police and protesters.  She then tried to promote 11 participating police officials for meritorious service.

IPS reports “The operation, involving 600 heavily armed DINOES policemen backed up by an Mi-17 helicopter and an armoured vehicle, opened fire on the peaceful crowd of indigenous people at dawn on Jun. 5 at the spot on the highway known as the Curva del Diablo (Devil’s Curve), where the protesters were manning the roadblock.  According to sources at the national police directorate who spoke with IPS in June, the operation was carried out despite the fact that two local police chiefs had signed a non-aggression pact with the leaders of the protests.”


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