Oil company blocked over uncontacted tribes

The Peruvian government has blocked oil exploration plans in the Amazon amidst fears for uncontacted tribes living in the area.

Spanish company Repsol YPF had presented an environmental impact assessment of its plans to explore for oil in the northern Peruvian Amazon.

But Peru’s Energy Ministry has now told Repsol that its assessment would not be accepted because it failed to address concerns about uncontacted Indians living in Repsol’s concession.

Survival and other NGOs had informed the government that at least two uncontacted tribes are known to inhabit the region. Repsol must gain approval from the Ministry before it can proceed any further.

Direct sightings of the Indians are rare, but evidence of their houses, gardens, household objects, food remains, spears, paths and footprints have all been found.

In total, there are an estimated 15 different uncontacted tribes in Peru and all are threatened with extinction due to oil exploration and illegal logging. 70% of the Peruvian Amazon has now been opened up to oil prospecting.

Survival International’s Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘This is an important step in recognising the existence and extreme vulnerability of the uncontacted tribes. However, the only way their rights, lives and health are really going to be guaranteed is by prohibiting oil companies from working there. This is their land and international law recognises that. So should Repsol.’

For further information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]