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Argentine gas giant to explore in Manu National Park World Heritage site

11/02/2013 15:36:46
world/sth_america_2011/manu_gas_helicopter

Helicopters traveling to the Camisea project drive away the forest game on which the Indians depend. © A. Goldstein/Survival

Secret plans for gas exploration in UNESCO World Heritage Site exposed
February 2013. A report leaked to British newspaper, The Guardian, has revealed secret plans by Argentine gas giant Pluspetrol to explore for natural gas in Peru's Manu National Park World Heritage site and an area inhabited by uncontacted tribes in southeast Peru.

Plans to search for gas in one of Peru's most important protected areas have been clouded in secrecy. But the leak exposes Pluspetrol's intentions to work in both an uncontacted tribes' reserve and the world-famous Manu national park.

Leaked report
The leaked report, written by environmental agency Quartz Services S.A. unveils Pluspetrol's hopes to expand operations beyond its current ‘block 88' into an area that has been dubbed ‘Fitzcarrald.' Block 88 is already one of the biggest natural gas projects in the Amazon, known as the Camisea project.

‘Development of the protected Manu National Park'
Quartz's report states its mission 'will contribute not only to the continuity of activity on Block 88, but also to the development of the protected Manu National Park.' On several occasions, Survival International has written to the Peruvian government and gas companies requesting information on the block, but has been told that no concrete exploration plans existed.

Stop press - Gas project plan halted

The Argentine gas giant Pluspetrol has publicly backtracked on plans to expand the notorious Camisea gas project in southeast Peru into one of the most biodiverse places on earth, following the exposure this week by The Guardian newspaper and Survival International.

The company has released a statement in which it admitted planning what it described as ‘superficial geological studies... for scientific interest,' in Manu National Park, but promising that it had now abandoned these plans.
The Peruvian national parks authority Sernanp has also released a statement following the media storm, confirming it had denied Pluspetrol's request to work in the area on the grounds that the Manu's protected status ‘expressly prohibits the exploitation of natural resources'.

Nahua-Nanti reserve for isolated and uncontacted Indians
Fitzcarrald would cut the Nahua-Nanti reserve for isolated and uncontacted Indians in half and encroach into the Manu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for a biological diversity that ‘exceeds any other place on Earth.'

In 2011 a team of investigators employed by Pluspetrol were discovered by Nahua Indians carrying out studies in an area outside Pluspetrol's concession. Initially the Indians asked workers to leave their ancestral land, but they were later allowed to continue their work after the company offered gifts to members of the tribe.

Illegal exploration
Any oil or gas work in the protected area is illegal following a 2003 Supreme Decree that prohibits the expansion of the Camisea gas project within the Nahua-Nanti reserve. Uncontacted tribes are extremely vulnerable to contact with outsiders, as they risk being exposed to diseases to which they have little or no immunity.

Peru's Amazon Indian organizations AIDESEP, FENAMAD, ORAU and COMARU have announced they will take legal action against the expansion of Camisea.

Survival's Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Pluspetrol are fully aware that their exploration plans are illegal. They will also know that trespassing on Indian land brings death and disease to the uncontacted inhabitants. If this project is allowed to continue, Pluspetrol could be responsible for the destruction of entire peoples. Why is the Peruvian government allowing a foreign company to ride roughshod over its law and jeopardize the survival of its own citizens?'

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