Kate Mackenzie Peru’s oil and gas reserves and its ‘hidden’ tribes

Peru has just 0.1 per cent of the world’s oil reserves, but that’s nothing to be sneezed at given the country’s average per capita GDP is $8,400.

An interesting piece in the Guardian looks at reports of ‘uncontacted tribes’ in Peru’s part of the Amazon – proof of whose existence would have big implications for oil exploration there.

The existence of such tribes in Brazil and Ecuador is not contested, but in Peru the question is a little more difficult. The country’s president is scornful of the claims of Peruvian uncontacted tribes, and says it is a ruse to prevent oil exploration. Peru has been rapidly allocating large parts of its share of the Amazon for oil and gas exploration in recent years. Much of the focus is on Lot 67, which has been licensed to Perenco, an Anglo-French oil company. An environmental impact assessment concluded there was no uncontacted tribes currently living in the area, but three of the report’s authors say they believe that such tribes do still live there.

Either way, the classic scenario of tension over natural resources is building for Peru’s ‘discovered’ minorities. The ‘nativos’ in Lima, the story says, took direct action last year against proposed new laws allowing energy projects in the Amazon which resulted in the government pulling back on some of those laws.