Native protesters take over wells in Peru's biggest oil block

Native protesters take over wells in Peru's biggest oil block

LIMA, Peru - Native protesters occupied 14 wells in Peru's biggest oil block and blocked a riverway, halting 3,100 barrels of crude output per day to press for compensation for land use, the energy firm Pluspetrol said on Tuesday.

The wells stopped producing midday on Monday, when some 380 members of the Achuar community Pampa Hermosa took control of facilities and obstructed roads in oil block 1-AB, said Carlos Sandi, president of local indigenous group Feconaco.

Pluspetrol, which has operated block 1-AB in Peru's northern Amazonian region Loreto since 2001, said in a statement that protesters also seized eight boats on the Tigre River, including two that provided supplies for the company.

Sandi said protesters are demanding compensation for the use of their lands and installation of an industrial sawmill. They also want a community-run company to provide services for work in the oil block. "They have taken their measures of protest and are waiting for dialogue to resolve this as soon as possible," Sandi said by telephone.

Pluspetrol said the community should not receive compensation because it is not within the area of direct influence of oil operations.

Pluspetrol's contract for oil block 1-AB expires in August. The government has not yet announced a bid date for the rights to continue developing the concession.

Oil block 1-AB has been the target of several indigenous protests in recent years.

Last year, Achuar communities protesting environmental problems occupied facilities that cut oil production from block 1-AB by 70 per cent for about a week.

The government declared environmental emergencies in several parts of the oil block in recent years because of high levels of pollution linked to past spills and leaks.

Pluspetrol produced about 15,000 barrels of oil per day from block 1-AB in 2013, nearly a quarter of Peru's relatively small output.

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