State oil firm Petroperu has declared emergency measures to protect its pipeline in the Amazon jungle following the 11th oil spill this year.
The latest spill is the eight breach of the Northern Peruvian Pipeline which Petroperu has attributed to vandals. The leak in the Alto Amazonas province of Peru’s northern state of Loreto has been contained, the company said in a statement.
“There are political and economic interests behind these actions. They use the natives. They use the communities to break the oil pipeline on purpose,” Petroperu president Augusto Baertl said in a press release last week. Baertl added that he was not accusing native communities but individuals acting on behalf of “unscrupulous individuals with hidden agendas.”
On Wednesday the company issued a statement outlining emergency measures to protect the 40-year-old pipeline. The four measures included coordinating with law enforcement to patrol the 687-mile pipeline and employing drones to employ video surveillance
The company will also pressure local authorities to find and prosecute those responsible and implement a Guardians of the Pipeline program to provide incentives to native communities to protect the pipeline from vandals.
The first three spills occurred in February and June due to insufficient maintenance of aging infrastructure, resulting in Petroperu being fined $3.6 million and the sacking of then-president German Velasquez. But the company has insisted that the next eight spills were caused by vandals.
Baertl said that the closing of the pipeline, which has been shut down since the third spill in June, hurts not only the national government which finances Petroperu but also regional and local governments whose royalties from oil production have been reduced to almost nothing.
He added that private oil companies such as Pacific Exploration and Production and Perenco, which have won licenses to drill in Peru but cannot ship oil from the jungle to Peru’s refineries on the coast, are also affected.
The latest spill occurred amid a strike which has blocked the Marañon River for 65 days. The crowd of 3,000 strikers is expected to grow as pressure mounts from local villages being denied supplies of food and medicine.
Loreto: Nativos anuncian bloqueo total del río Marañón (El Comercio)