The Camisea project is already Peru’s biggest and most controversial hydrocarbons development, and now the government is promoting its expansion. A consortium headed by Argentine company Pluspetrol is planning to drill over 20 new wells and conduct intensive seismic tests in a concession called ‘Lot 88’ in the Camisea gas fields in the Amazon in south-east Peru, one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.
However, this region is home to indigenous peoples, some of whom are living in ‘voluntary isolation’ or in ‘initial contact’ with national society. Roughly three quarters of ‘Lot 88’ includes a reserve established to protect the lives and lands of these peoples by making it off-limits to extractive industries.
In addition, expansion is projected to involve a new concession, known as ‘Lot Fitzcarrald’, which not only includes further sections of the reserve but is slated to include parts of the renowned Manu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Forest People’s Programme is supporting indigenous organisations in Peru who are challenging the expansion of the Camisea project.
In a letter to the Ministry of Culture, the Nahua communities who live in the Kugapakori Nahua-Nanti reserve declared their rejection of the gas project in Lot 88, because of the damage it would cause to indigenous communities threatened by extinction.
The Nahua, who have been in contact with the outside world since 1984, state that they have lost all confidence in the promises of Pluspetrol. “Our people, ” they state, “has decided not to allow any work by this company in our ancestral lands at the head of the Serjali river.”
The company plans to carry out 3-D seismic tests and drill 9 wells. Its expansion plan for Lot 88 is awaiting approval from the Ministry of Energy and Mining. The environmental impact assessment makes clear that the exploration work will involve access to the area by hundreds of workers and construction of many kilometers of new roads through the forest.
The Nahua’s letter is signed by Daniel Dispupidiwa Socorowa and four other representatives of the community of Santa Rosa de Serjali. It states that tuberculosis has been spreading among the indigenous inhabitants, but that “so far not a single local official has come to our assistance”. They lay the blame for this neglect on the Viceminstry for InterCulturalism, which “despite the substantial budget it has for helping our people”, has done nothing.
This reserve was established to protect peoples who face extinction. The imposition on three quarters of their territory of the Pluspetrol concession undermines that objective, they state.