Thursday, June 07, 2007

Congressional Hearing Highlights Environmental Impacts of Camisea

On June 4th, 2007 a hearing was held in the Peruvian Congress on "Camisea Gas and the Development of the Affected Communities. Presenters included the mayors of Pisco and Anco-La Mar as well as Congressional representatives from the regions of Huancavelica and Ayacucho. Wílder Manyavilca, Mayor of the province of Anco-La Mar (Ayacucho) described the damage to forests, contamination of water and medicinal plants, and the loss of agricultural activity caused by the project. He asked for a fund to compensate agriculturalists for the loss of flora and fauna. A recent study estimated that socio-environmental impacts of the project in Anco-La Mar alone were 39,062,885 Nuevo Soles (US$ 12.3 m).

Representatives from Pisco stated that the project had caused environmental damage in Paracas Bay and feared an increase in problems as the fractionation plant is expanded. The demanded a halt to all Camisea II activities. Pluspetrol responded in La Republica that Paracas Bay is not contaminated, citing a monitoring report of ProParacas which found water quality and biodiversity to be within "normal parameters."

Vice Minister of Energy, Pedro Gamio announced that the government had met 70% of its 21 commitments under the IDB Program for Institutional Strengthening and Support for Environmental and Social Management which will end in August.

Article on the hearing in La Republica.

Skanska and Techint Investigated in Bribery Skandal

Argentina's Techint and the Swedish transnational, Skanska, which worked together on the Camisea pipeline and Malvinas plant, are in the center of a money laundering and bribery scandal.

As reported in the Economist, Techint controls another gas pipeline in Argentina, called Transportadora de Gas del Norte (TGN), which the government paid with a trust fund to expand a pipeline carrying gas from Bolivia. Techint awarded contracts to Skanska which was later found to have evaded taxes by obtaining $400,000 in receipts from a shadow company with no employees, called Infinity. An internal Skaska investigation found that the company had paid $4 million to 23 different companies services never rendered. Seven of Skanska's managers in Argentina have been arrested. One politician estimates that $25 m of the $285 m price tag for the pipeline was improperly spent. The investigation into the laundering is looking into the involvement of Argentina's planning minister and has caused a scandal within President's Kirchner's government.

Recordings of conversations between the internal auditor and commercial manager of Skanska in Argentina suggest that the corruption scheme was used in Peru with contracts of up to $1.8 m. Skanska's recent projects in Peru include the engineering and construction of the flowlines in Block 88 and the duct system for the submarine gas terminal in Pisco.

Thousands March to Protest Camisea Plant in Pisco

On June 6th, between 3 and 5 thousand protesters, led by Pisco Mayor, Juan Mendoza Uribe, peacefully marched to Pluspetrol's gas fractionation plant, approximately 10 km south of the city to protest the construction of the plant within the buffer zone of the Paracas National Reserve. According to the Peruvian news, the demonstrators are demanding the revision of the socio-environmental contract signed with the Camisea consortium, which pays the municipality only US$9 million over the project's 40-year lifespan. They are also protesting plans to expand the fractionation plant.

In May, the Pisco municipal government appealed the Environmental Impact Assessment for the expansion of the plant, citing irregularities. According to the mayor, "There are defects and legal and technical voids (in the environmental impact study). Furthermore there is no compensation considered for any contamination and ecological damage (that could occur) in the Paracas National Reserve. CPN Radio

Cusco Government Declares State of Emergency in Kumpirishiato

On June 5, 2007, the Natural Resources Bureau of the Cusco regional government declared a State of Emergency for the Kumpirishiato watershed because of the spills from the Camisea pipeline. Kumpirishiato is the site of the pipeline's most recent spill on April 2, 2007 at km 125. According to a government official, the measure was taken to draw the attention of the federal government in order to address the urgent ecological crisis in the area. On June 12, a Cusco government commission, headed by Regional President, Hugo Gonzáles Sayán will visit the affected region. Cusco government official, Abel Caballero Osorio, cited in an article on the website of the Coordinadora National de Radio, raised concerns that TGP was violating Peruvian law by pumping 120,000 barrels of gas per day, exceeding the limit of 37,000 barrels.