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Indigenous Leaders Threaten Access To One Of Peru’s Largest Oilfields

Indigenous leaders in Peru will obstruct the government’s access to one of the country’s largest oilfields if an indigenous rights law does not take effect in the next 20 days, according to a new report from the Guardian.

Tribal leaders from four separate Amazon basins will collude in blocking Lima from current production areas after the government negotiated a 30-year contract with Frontera Energy to explore block 192 without consulting local indigenous people. Canadian Frontera’s current contract expires in early 2019.

A 2011 prior consultation law requires the government to seek the consent of any indigenous groups that would be affected by a prospective fossil fuel project. The energy ministry argues that a previous consultation process that began in 2015 still applies to the new contract, but the tribes insist that the previous talks were carried out in “bad faith.”

“We live in a state where our democratic rights are not respected,” Carlos Sandi of the Corrientes river indigenous federation said.  “If there is no consultation we will not allow the state or the oil companies in our territory for the next 30 years,” she added, representing one of roughly two dozen leaders from the northern Loreto region.

In July, the United Nations expressed its support for the tribes’ cause, adding concerns of uncleaned pollution in the production area.

“The Peruvian Government must suspend the direct negotiations with companies until the right to free, prior and informed consent is guaranteed, and all environmental damage has been remedied,” U.N. Special Rapporteurs Baskut Tuncak and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz said in a statement last month.

Related: Billions In Oil Deals Shield Iran From U.S. Sanctions

Block 192 produced 2,565 barrels of oil per day in 2017, far lower than the 10,000-bpd output it had in previous years.

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Peru is a modest oil producer, with daily output at 38,290 bpd as of the end of 2016, but it has the third-largest gas reserves in South America, at 426.1 billion cubic meters as of 2014. Oil reserves are estimated at 170 million tons.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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