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Pluspetrol denies responsibility for pollution in Peru' s Amazon

BY RYAN DUBE

PERU -- Pluspetrol denied that its current operations at a concession in Peru' s northern jungle are the cause of serious environmental contamination.

In a statement published in local newspapers, Pluspetrol said that when it took over oil production at block 1AB there was already widespread pollution from operations over the last 30 years. Oil extraction started in block 1AB in 1971 by Occidental Petroleum. Pluspetrol took over the operations in 2000.

Pluspetrol said that it has invested more than $500 million to clean up the pollution and has carried out environmental remediation at more than 100 sites.

"Despite these efforts, we continue to discover impacted areas, which will be evaluated in order to take corresponding actions" Pluspetrol said. "We guarantee that the normal development of Pluspetrol operations in the jungle of Loreto doesn' t create contamination" it added.

Pluspetrol produced 15,127 bopd in block 1AB in February, close to 24% of the total crude produced in Peru that month.

Last week, Peru' s government declared a state of environmental emergency in the Pastaza River basin, where block 1AB is located. It said that it found evidence of widespread environmental damage, including high levels of heavy metals in the water supplies.

Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal accused Pluspetrol of acting irresponsibly in its environmental oversight.

Nongovernmental organizations have also accused Pluspetrol of poor environmental management. Local organization Cooperaccion said that Pluspetrol has "the worst social and environmental standards."

The organization said that the government' s declaration of an emergency in the Pastaza area is a good first step, but is no guarantee that future environmental damage will be prevented and past contamination cleaned up.

"We shouldn' t forget that this measure will only last 90 days, and it also won' t mean that production at block 1AB is going to stop" Cooperaccion said.

Dow Jones Newswires

04/01/2013

 

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