Iquitos-based NGO Instituto Chaikuni and regional indigenous federation ORPIO have published a report highlighting the devastating impacts of the North Peruvian Pipeline transporting oil all the way from the Amazon to Peru’s Pacific Coast. The report, titled ‘The Black Snake of Peru’s Amazon: the North Peruvian Pipeline’, includes maps of the reported spills, testimonies from impacted indigenous people, powerful photos, and remarks from some of the experts involved. The number of ‘spills’ - more than 100 since 1979 - are reported to have increased since 2014. 

In addition, the report draws attention to an ‘alarming yet very little acknowledged report’ by a Peruvian Congressional commission investigating the ‘spills.’ The conclusions highlighted include ‘serious indications of possible corruption’ among functionaries working for the Peruvian state-owned company, Petroperu, that owns and operates the pipeline, as well as ‘irregularities’ in contracting, negligence regarding maintenance of the pipeline, and the possibility that the companies contracted to clean up some of the ‘spills’ were responsible for them in the first place. 

‘The aforementioned companies may have had sufficient economic incentives to participate directly or indirectly in the cuts to the Pipeline made between 2014 and 2016, since as their frequency increased, so did the possibilities of exponentially increasing profits,’ the Commission’s report states.

Chaikuni and ORPIO acknowledge that the Commission’s findings still haven’t been discussed by Congress, and question the long-term future of oil operations in the north Peruvian Amazon. The impacts on indigenous peoples like the Achuar, Kichwa, Urarinas and Kukamas are effectively impossible to convey. One man featured in the report, Percy Casternoque, is quoted saying: ‘I want the Peruvian State and world to know the great necessity we are in. We have heavy metals like lead and mercury in our blood. As human beings, we need health, life, and tranquillity.” 

David Hill