Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Defensoria del Pueblo: Perupetro Must Coordinate with INRENA and INDEPA on New Blocks

A March 20, 2007 report by the office of Peru's Public Ombudsperson (Defensoria del Pueblo) analyzes the overlap of Peru's 18 new hydrocarbon exploration concessions with Natural Protected Areas, Protected Area Buffer Zones, Reserve Zones (a transitional protection status), and existing and proposed Territorial Reserves for indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation. The report cites date from civil society organizations that one Block, 131 overlaps with a protected area (El Sira Communal Reserve); six blocks (130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 136, and 140) overlap buffer zones; four of the blocks (135, 137, 138, and 139) overlap the Sierra del Divisor Reserve Zone; four blocks (132, 133, 138, and 139) overlap Territorial Reserves for indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation; and four blocks (135, 136, 137, and 139) overlap proposed Territorial Reserves.

The report found considerable disagreement between the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM), Perupetro - the state company that promotes hydrocarbon exploration - and Peru's natural resource agency (INRENA) in their interpretation of the law. MEM and Perupetro claim that INRENA only needs to be consulted when the contracting company submits an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for exploration in the protected area, but does not need to be involved in the designation of hydrocarbon exploration blocks. The Defensoria's report concludes that the government must obtain a technical opinion from INRENA before it auctions off blocks in protected areas and that INDEPA should be consulted on blocks that overlap with Territorial Reserves for isolated peoples.

In an interview on "Mesa Central" on Chanel 7, Perupetro President, Daniel Saba (pictured), tried to discredit the Ombudsperson's report, questioning the organization's motives. He claimed that INRENA's only role in the process of hydrocarbon development in protected areas was to review the EIS submitted by the company and then went on to deny the existence of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation in the Peruvian Amazon. Saba dismissed evidence of the existence of isolated peoples saying that it was invented by an anthropologist who now works at the World Bank. (Ironically, the person in question, Alonso Zarzar, was head of community relations in the 1990's for Shell in Camisea and spent much of his time trying to disprove the existence of isolated peoples in the Nahua-Kugapakori Territorial Reserve in order to justify Shell's drilling there.) Saba then announced that Perupetro would do its own study to show that isolated peoples do not exist.

Link to the interview with Perupetro's Daniel Saba.
Related: Peru's New Petroleum Concession Map Covers Most of Amazon

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