Second oil company blocked over uncontacted tribes

The Peruvian government has blocked oil exploration by US company Barrett Resources in the northern Amazon over concerns about uncontacted tribes living there.

The news comes just days after a similar decision was made by the government about oil activity in a neighbouring part of the rainforest.

Peru’s Energy Ministry has rejected Barrett’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) of plans to develop its oil discovery. One of the main reasons is that the EIA failed to take into account adequately the uncontacted tribes living in the area.

Only a week earlier the Ministry rejected Spanish oil giant Repsol YPF’s EIA on similar grounds. Neither company can proceed any further before it gains the Ministry’s approval.

There are an estimated 15 different uncontacted tribes in Peru and all are threatened with extinction from oil exploration and illegal logging. 70% of the Peruvian Amazon has now been opened to oil.

Recently the chairman of Perupetro, the state oil company, caused outrage by questioning the tribes’ existence and then announcing plans to contact them. Because of their isolation, the tribes are extremely vulnerable to disease and any form of contact can be fatal.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Good news, but of course it’s only temporary. Now the Ministry needs to prohibit oil activity in areas inhabited by uncontacted tribes and companies should agree to keep out. International law recognises this land as the tribes’, and so should Barrett and Repsol.’

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