Peru's great 'hope' has oil income frozen in Ecuador

March 9, 2009

Crossed spears left by uncontacted Indians in the region where Perenco is working. © Marek Wolodzko/AIDESEP

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The French company tipped to transform Peru’s economy is having its income from oil revenues frozen in neighbouring Ecuador, it has been announced.

The announcement was made by PetroEcuador after the company, Perenco, missed its deadline to pay off a $350 million debt to Ecuador’s government. According to reports, PetroEcuador said it would freeze the income from 720,000 barrels of oil produced by Perenco.

Ironically, Ecuador’s decision follows statements from high-ranking officials in Peru that Perenco’s work there will transform Peru’s economy. Perenco is hoping to exploit what is believed to be the biggest oil discovery in Peru in 30 years – a discovery which was welcomed by President Garcia by a personal visit to the site. Since then, the Minister of Energy has expressed hopes Perenco’s find will convert Peru from a net importer of oil to a net exporter, and the president of the ‘Hydrocarbon Committee’ from Peru’s mining, oil and energy trade association recently said he hopes Perenco will help overturn Peru’s billion dollar oil and gas deficit.

But the region where Perenco is working is inhabited by at least two uncontacted tribes. Peru’s national Indigenous peoples’ organisation, AIDESEP, has proposed the creation of a reserve for the tribes, but to date no reserve has been created. Survival is urging Perenco to cease working in the area immediately.

The identity of the tribes is not clear. One is known as the Taromenane, believed to be a sub-group of the well-known Waorani, and the other the Pananujuri.

Survival director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘Oil work on the lands of uncontacted tribes will destroy them. It violates the UN declaration and international law. Peoples must no longer be destroyed, whether or not it's for the supposed betterment of the many.’

Uncontacted Tribes of Peru