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Peru's Petroleum Play

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The Camisea Natural Gas Project in Peru is one of South America's largest energy developments. With six pipeline ruptures since 2004, it's also one of the most controversial. In this segment, we look at how this US-taxpayer-supported project has affected the region. PERU'S PETROLEUM PLAY Lone Outpost, Inc., in association with Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting [sounds of congested traffic] Lima, Peru [In Spanish, translated] Lima is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Walk around Peru for an hour, you'll end up with your eyes watering and nose burning. Danilo Valenzuela, Engineering Professor And this would be one of the most important things about Camisea: it would allow the buses to use natural gas, which burns clean, and replace diesel fuel, which is a pollutant. [In Spanish, translated] It was the opportunity for this country Luis Eduardo, Journalist to have an owned resource without having to buy from other countries and use it to develop industry and, in general, give the poor access to energy. Carol Burda, Shinai (NGO) [In Spanish, translated] People know mainly about the big impact it's going to have on Peru, but they ignore the impact that this is already having on the communities. Due to energy prices, it's become much more cost effective to actually go into remote areas, and do the expiration expectations of wells Alredo Ferreyros, Conservation International - Peru and the Camisea is obviously the first biggest project along those lines [sound of truck passing through] HERE BEGINS ECHARATI Cradle of Camisea Gas Persi Luna Peralta, Enviromental Engineer Since the companies began working here in 2001, they intervened in a population that was 91% indigenous and had been largely isolated from the rest of society. The companies came to work there and quickly created changes. [sound of boat blowing horn] There's heavy river traffic, and this traffic affects the fish Washington Coello, Fishery Expert There exists contamination from residual acids and contamination from the gas lines, so there are a lot less fish. [sounds of boat motor running] The lack of fish affects us greatly because Miriam Caceres, Nurse, Camisea Community people here basically eat only fish. It's pretty serious. [sounds of birds chirping] Jesus says: Those that are thirsty, Jesus says: come to me and drink. Everything, in each stream, flows into the Camisea River, and we consume from that river. So what would happen to all that waste, that soil, that flows into it? It can cause diseases that we're not accustomed to. Las Malvinas Processing Plant The population asked to work as part of the project, so we mounted a local employment program. A program that has to date allowed no migration to the Lower Urubamba. Sandra Martinez, Pluspetrol Peru Only the local village works on the project. To date, more than 4,000 people from the Lower Urubamba have worked on the project. Kiteni, Peru The company gets established there, they camp, commerce gets started. The people of the town start to offer services to the oil companies. Prostitution starts. They begin to open trails, the loggers start to arrive. What kind of development is that? Shivankoreni Community [sounds of banging on wood and birds chirping] The community wins much more than it thinks it loses, or than they really lose. Oscar Begacenteno, Doctor, Shivankoreni Community Here in the community they have the Internet. There are personal computers, a fair amount of them the company has given to the people. They have cable. With 80 channels you can watch every day. They definitely gain. They get culture. They gain education and a better lifestyle. Porotobango Community [sound of children yelling and laughing] Sisters and brothers, Good morning I'm here representing the Machiguenga Council of Urubamba COMARU, which is made up of 31 communities in the Urubamba Valley. I think the important role of an indigenous organization like COMARU, Gregor MacLennan, Shinai (NGO) is to try and represent the collective interests of the communities. If we unite as a community, community members, women and men, we're going to get what we want. We're no longer going to feel like the corporations are trampling on us. Their other role is to help their communities form opinions, because before a company comes, no one has any idea about what contamination is, what it means. They have a very good idea about what a job is, what money is, what satellite TV is, they are very real things. But contamination of rivers, oil spills, cultural impacts as prostitution, drinking problems, are completely alien, as something people can't imagine. The Peruvian government is bidding 18 new oil blocks and, with that, almost 60% of the Peruvian territory of protected areas and virgin forests, will be affected by oil or gas extractive industries. Is it possible to do major oil and gas projects in an environment as sensitive as the Peruvian Amazon? Bill Powers, E-Tech International Can you do the project minimizing the impacts--because they will be there-- and get out the economic benefits, the oil, and the gas-- I don't know the answer to that. All I know is they're not using state-of-the-art practices on this project, in all aspects, that would have minimized the impact. The natives lived in their own world, in peace. But now, Alcides Huinchonti, COMARU they're losing their culture. It's a great impact. What comes from the outside is changing us, as they say. What do the communities expect? What do the federations expect? To lift ourselves up. How long are we going to be at the bottom? Are they going to violate our rights while we look on because they have the resources? In 20 or 30 years, they'll be gone. Then where are we? Read more about Camisea in Virginia Quarterly Review, [sounds of birds in the background and ♪Jazzy music playing ♪] WITH FAREED ZAKARIA PEOPLES OF THE AMAZON There are over 200 indigenous groups in the Amazon Rainforest talking 180 different languages. Source: These groups vary in size from 200 people to over 30,000 There are at least 50 groups that continue to avoid contact with outsiders WITH FAREED ZAKARIA Peru's Pertroleum Play Producers: Duncan McLean, Sean Weber-Small, Kelly Hearn Produced in Association with Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting "Foreign Exchange" is produced by Azimuth Media © Copyright Lone OutPost, Inc., 2007

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 32 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
Director: Kelly Hearn
Views: 186
Posted by: pulitzercenter on Apr 24, 2008

As featured on Foreign Exchange. The Camisea Natural Gas Project in Peru is one of South America's largest energy developments. With six pipeline ruptures since 2004, it's also one of the most controversial. In this segment, we look at how this US taxpayer-supported project has affected the region.


Duncan McLean
Sean Weber-Small
Kelly Hearn

Produced in association with Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

© Copyright Lone OutPost, Inc., 2007

Visit for more information about the feature length film, currently in production. Also visit for additional articles and interviews on the subject.

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