Drilling in Amazon Imperils Environment and Indigenous People

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

On January 27, 2014 Peruvian government regulators approved plans for gas company Pluspetrol to commence drilling in a once-protected reserve for indigenous peoples in the Amazon rainforest. The approval comes after Peru quashed a decidedly critical environmental impact report on the operation by the Culture Ministry (MINCU), the resignation of the Culture Minister and other Ministry personnel, and heavy criticism from Peruvian and international civil society.
A subsequent MINCU report requested that Pluspetrol cancel plans to conduct seismic tests in one specific portion of the reserve because of the “possible presence of [indigenous] people in isolation,” yet it didn’t object to tests across a much broader area.
The planned operations expand the Camisea gas project, Peru’s biggest energy development, with active well platforms already in the indigenous reserve producing gas. Almost three-quarters of Pluspetrol’s operation overlaps the reserve, created in 1990 and given greater legal protection in 2003.
The reserve’s inhabitants live in what Peruvian law calls “voluntary isolation” or “initial contact,” having little-to-no contact with outsiders and thus lacking immune defenses. Pluspetrol concedes that contact with the reserve’s inhabitants is “probable” during drilling, and that such peoples in general are thus susceptible to “massive deaths” from transmitted diseases.

David Hill, “Gas Company to Drill in Manu National Park Buffer Zone, Imperiling Indigenous People,” Mongobay, Febuary 4, 2014, http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0204-hill-gas-manu.html

Student Researcher: Frank Fitton (Florida Atlantic University)

Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)