Protesters end occupation of some Peru oil wells

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 25, 2015 2:51 PM

LIMA (Reuters) - An indigenous community in Peru's biggest oil block stopped its monthlong occupation of 14 wells, while protesters in another town in the Amazonian region took control of six different wells, a native leader said Wednesday.

The Achuar community of Pampa Hermosa gave up control of 14 wells in oil block 1-AB on Wednesday following an agreement with operator Pluspetrol on payment for use of ancestral lands, said Carlos Sandi, the head of indigenous federation Feconaco.

Another indigenous community, Nuevo Andoas, ended its five-day occupation of a small community airport in the oil block on Wednesday after talks with Pluspetrol resumed, said Tedy Guerra, its chief.

But Nuevo Jerusalen, an Achuar town in the Corrientes River basin, has halted output from at least six wells since Sunday to press for compensation for an oil spill last year, Sandi said.

Tribal protests over payments and environmental cleanup in block 1-AB have intensified over the past year as Argentine energy company Pluspetrol nears the end of its contract.

Oil companies have operated the block for more than 40 years. In recent years, the government declared several parts under environmental emergency because of oil pollution.

Pluspetrol said in a statement on Wednesday that protests in the oil block had stopped production by 86,720 barrels and that it remained committed to dialogue to avoid conflicts.

The company did not immediately respond to requests for comments on the conflict with Nuevo Jerusalen.

Pluspetrol has said it would be interested in bidding on the rights to continue developing block 1-AB once the government calls for a new auction.

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The company has operated the block since 2001, and its contract for the concession expires in August.

State energy agency Perupetro said it could not open bidding until the government reaches an agreement with indigenous communities on pollution, payment for land use and other demands.

The oil block typically produces between 15,000 and 17,000 barrels of oil per day, nearly a quarter of Peru's relatively small output.

(Reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)