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A second hydrocarbon boom threatens the Peruvian Amazon
Date:2/18/2010

rends. For example, there has been a steady decline in Amazonian oil production ever since its peak in the early 1980s. In contrast, natural gas production from the Peruvian Amazon has been skyrocketing since 2004 and the start of production at Camisea. The year 2009 had the lowest oil output in over 30 years, but marked the sixth consecutive year of rapidly increasing natural gas production.

The vast majority of these concessions overlap sensitive areas, such as official state natural protected areas and indigenous peoples' lands. Nearly one-fifth of the protected areas and over half of all titled indigenous lands in the Peruvian Amazon are now covered by hydrocarbon concessions. And perhaps most disturbingly, over 60% of the area proposed as reserves for indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation are covered by oil concessions. The authors stress that one of the more troubling aspects of the new boom is the expanding hydrocarbon frontier, as much of the last remote and pristine tracts of rainforest left in the Amazon are now fair game for oil and gas companies.

As an example, the researchers highlighted Block 67, operated by Perenco. It is located in one of the most megadiverse and intact corners of the Amazon, but it is slated for major development as it sits on top of over 300 million barrels of probable oil reserves. Block 67 also overlaps a proposed reserve for uncontacted indigenous peoples.

The first hydrocarbon boom of the early 1970s brought with it severe negative environmental and social impacts, according to the authors, and all indications are that this second boom will do so as well. Indeed, in 2009 there was a deadly conflict between indigenous protestors and government forces in Bagua, Peru, largely stemming from government efforts to lease or sell indigenous lands without their free, prior and informed consent.

The authors call for a rigorous policy debate, including a greater analysis of potential environmental a
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Contact: Maria Jesus Delgado
MariaJesus.Delgado@uab.cat
34-935-814-049
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Source:Eurekalert

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