Wednesday, March 14, 2007

NACLA: The Camisea Cover-Up

Kelly Hearn, writing for the North American Congress on Latin America, provides a detailed account of the concerns about the integrity of the Camisea pipeline as first reported by the NGO, E-Tech. E-Tech's initial report was issued in early 2006, only a week before a pipeline explosion occurred in Echarate.

Hearn interviewed an anonymous inspector, "Andrés" who showed him a copy of an inspection report issued by Gulf Interstate Engineering, declaring one of the welding teams unfit.
Andrés emphasized that Techint had been unprepared for the jungle terrain, since it had failed to carry out a geotechnical study of the pipeline route. He said the company used a route proposed by Shell Oil when it was contending for rights to Camisea. “TGP took Shell’s plan and modified it without even inspecting the route from the ground. They only flew over in a helicopter,” he said. Héctor Gallegos, president of the Peruvian College of Engineering, agreed that Techint had failed to gather geotechnical data. “In engineering there is a basic probability equation for the design and construction of a work, which is ‘Danger times vulnerability equals risk,’” Gallegos said. “In this case, the danger—the geology and soil—was not known, so it was impossible for them to fix the vulnerability.”
The article goes on to report irregularities in the process by which Peru's Ministry of Energy and Mines selected a private firm to carry out a technical audit of the pipeline. The contract went to the Mexican subsidiary of the German company Germanischer Lloyd which offered to do the audit for $1.9 million, far less than the next lowest bid of $6 million. One engineer involved in a competing bid said, “I have talked to others involved in the bid, and we agree that the job cannot be done for that amount.” On theory is that Techint paid Germanischer Lloyd - Mexico to underbid in order to secure the contract and conduct a forgiving audit. Peru's College of Engineers also suspects foul play and published a letter to the Ministry of Energy and Mines in October 2006, asking that the audit be suspended.

Other concerns about the pipeline raised in the article are that the pipeline was too thin for the steep terrain and further that Techint may be running the pressure too high, beyond test levels.

Much more in the The Camisea Cover-Up

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