ConocoPhillips poses 'deadly' threat to uncontacted tribes

May 21, 2009

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One of the United States’ largest energy companies, ConocoPhillips, could constitute a ‘deadly’ threat to uncontacted tribes in northern Peru, says a new report by AmazonWatch and Save America’s Forests (SAF).

The report, titled ‘ConocoPhillips in the Peruvian Amazon’, details how the energy giant owns a ‘mega-concession’ of 10.5 million hectares to explore for oil in Peru. This is a larger territory than that occupied by any other US oil company in the entire Amazon basin.

In addition to the threats posed to uncontacted tribes, AmazonWatch and SAF express their concern for the possible consequences on other, contacted Indigenous peoples and the environment. The region, rich in plants, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, has been identified as one of the world’s ‘mega bio-diversity hotspots’.

The report explains that uncontacted tribes live in ‘voluntary isolation’ and ‘have a made a conscious decision to avoid forced contact, given the violence, decimation by disease, and cultural devastation’ that usually follows first contact. It also details evidence of uncontacted Indians in the area where ConocoPhillips is working, including several sightings of them and footprints, trails and spears belonging to them.

ConocoPhillips’s partner in the region, known as Lot 39, is Repsol-YPF. According to the report, ConocoPhillips Peru’s General Manager said that Repsol told his company ‘there was no evidence of un-contacted people’ in Lot 39.

The report was published just a day before Repsol’s president, Antonio Brufau, was quoted in the Spanish press recognising the problems faced by companies working in areas inhabited by uncontacted tribes.

AmazonWatch and SAF make several recommendations to ConocoPhillips, including the complete withdrawal of the company from the 10.5 million hectares.

Read the report. 

Uncontacted Tribes of Peru