On March 4, Peru’s Camisea pipeline ruptured and spilled yet again, this time in the indigenous settlement of Kepashiato. The pipe was transporting liquid natural gas, and its explosion set a field and a home on fire, and left several people with 2nd degree burns. This most recent spill is the fifth pipeline disaster to occur in only 18 months of operation, and the third incident to take place in the sensitive Amazon region.
Since the Camisea project’s inception, indigenous and non-governmental organizations have publicly criticized the natural gas project for its lax environmental and social standards and damaging impacts. In fact, only days before the spill, on February 27, the US non-profit environmental consultant E-Tech International released a report accusing the pipeline construction company Transportadora de Gas Peru (TGP) of a host of engineering shortfalls. Problems included the use of leftover, oxidized pipe, shoddy construction in areas of steep terrain, and the employment of unqualified welders.
Further fueling the controversy, the Peruvian press recently suggested a potential conflict of interest involving Peru’s current Prime Minister, Pedro Pablo Kuzynski. Kuzynski has served on the board of pipeline manufacturer Techint, he has been an advisor to TGP partner Hunt Oil, and he worked as a consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank when it decided to finance the pipeline.
Doubts about the pipeline’s integrity come at a time of expansion of hydrocarbon exploration in Peru’s Lower Urubamba region, including into neighboring Block 56. Production from this block would also rely on the troublesome Camisea pipeline, increasing pressure and the potential for leaks and spills. For more information contact COMARU: firstname.lastname@example.org.