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Study Concludes A Second Hydrocarbon Boom Threatens the Peruvian Amazon

A rapid proliferation of oil and gas concessions threatens the Peruvian Amazon, according to a study by a pair of researchers from the Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA) of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), and the Washington DC-based NGO Save America’s Forests (SAF). Their study found that the amount of area leased is on track to reach around 70% of the region.

Map of all current oil and gas concessions, proposed concessions, and technical evaluation agreement lots in the Peruvian Amazon. Source: Finer and Orta-Martínez. Click to enlarge.

The study, published in the IOP journal Environmental Research Letters, reconstructs the history of hydrocarbon activities in the region and makes projections for the next five years.

Matt Finer and Martí Orta-Martínez found that more of the Peruvian Amazon has recently been leased to oil and gas companies than at any other time on record. There are now 52 active hydrocarbon concessions covering more than 41% of the Peruvian Amazon, up from 7% in 2003. The authors warn that the region has now entered the early stages of a second hydrocarbon exploration boom and that the amount of area leased to oil and gas companies is on track to reach around 70% of the region.

The collected data reveals an extensive hydrocarbon history of more than 100,000 km of seismic lines and nearly 700 wells, resulting in the extraction of nearly 1 billion barrels of oil over the past 70 years from the Peruvian Amazon, the second largest land area of the Amazon Basin after Brazil. The first major hydrocarbon exploration boom took place in the Peruvian Amazon in the early to mid 1970s, immediately followed by an exploitation boom from the late 1970s to the early 1980s.

Among the other findings of the study:

  • While there has been a steady decline in Amazonian oil production ever since its peak in the early 1980s, natural gas production from the Peruvian Amazon has been skyrocketing since 2004 and the start of production at Camisea. The year 2009 had the lowest oil output in more than 30 years, but marked the sixth consecutive year of rapidly increasing natural gas production.

  • Nearly one-fifth of official state natural protected areas and more than half of all titled indigenous lands in the Peruvian Amazon are now covered by hydrocarbon concessions.

  • More than 60% of the area proposed as reserves for indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation are covered by oil concessions.

As an example, the researchers highlighted Block 67, operated by Perenco. It is located in one of the most megadiverse and intact corners of the Amazon, but it is slated for major development as it sits on top of more than 300 million barrels of probable oil reserves. Block 67 also overlaps a proposed reserve for uncontacted indigenous peoples.

The first hydrocarbon boom of the early 1970s brought with it severe negative environmental and social impacts, according to the authors, who suggest that this second boom will do so as well. In 2009 there was a deadly conflict between indigenous protestors and government forces in Bagua, Peru, largely stemming from government efforts to lease or sell indigenous lands without their free, prior and informed consent.

The authors call for a rigorous policy debate, including a greater analysis of potential environmental and social impacts and how they could be effectively avoided or at least minimized. The authors highlight Ecuador’s Yasuni-ITT Initiative, which seeks international contributions in exchange for leaving the massive ITT oil fields untapped beneath an Amazonian national park. Given that Block 67 is just across the border from ITT, the authors conclude the paper by suggesting that perhaps Peru employ a similar strategy.

Researchers have compiled official government data collected by the Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Peruvian state energy companies Petroperú and Perúpetro. Specifically, they extracted information dealing with contracts, seismic testing, well construction, oil development, and natural gas development for Amazonian oil and gas concessions for each of the past 40 years. Information for activities prior to 1970, when there were only two producing oil concessions, has been pieced together as much as possible from these documents as well.

Impacts on indigenous people and biodiversity impacts were gauged using Geographical Information Systems to calculate overlaps among hydrocarbon concessions and different land-use categories: areas in the official protected area system, titled indigenous lands and Territorial Reserves created for the protection of indigenous people in voluntary isolation.


  • Matt Finer and Martí Orta-Martínez (2010) A second hydrocarbon boom threatens the Peruvian Amazon: trends, projections, and policy implications. Environmental Research Letters. Volume 5, Number 1: 014012 doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/5/1/014012



yet another reason for a concerted effort to transform the failed global warming campaign to ENERGY INDEPENDENCE. If industrialized nations are reminded that they are addicted to a toxic, finite resource, that costs them billions to import - they might start to listen. Growing domestic, renewable resources of all kinds, even traveling wave nuclear, is the fastest way to prevent destruction of rainforest and wilderness.

Can we not just accept that the climate change idea was doomed from the start - because it refused to use real science? And move on to growing sustainable energy resources that meet energy independence goals and will cut demand for oil exploitation? Sure it means admitting a wrong. Is it now just stubborn pride that prevents moving forward?



Here's a good one for you. USA currently imports 2,500,000+ barrels/day of the dirtiest oil extracted from tar sands at an average price of $80/barrel ($73B/yr) but refuses to import more sustainable Hydro electricity at 8 cents/Kwh pretending that it is not clean enough.

Where is the logic here? Is it a another clear demonstration of the power of Oil and Coal fired power generating plants lobbies?

With that kind of on-going nonsense, maintaining international credibility is getting harder to do. Outsiders have a hard to trust us.



The last line should read... Outsiders have a hard time to trust us.

Nick Lyons


You wrote: "Can we not just accept that the climate change idea was doomed from the start - because it refused to use real science?"

Answer: No, we can't accept your unsupported assertion. Climate science isn't perfect (no science is), but the evidence for AGW is overwhelming and we ignore it at our peril.



surprising. US imports lots of hydro... in year 2000 Canada exported about 50k GWh hydro to the U.S. But they are stupidly fighting over Renewable Fuel certificates. Politics.


Your statement is true if we allow for radiative heat from urban centers, like UHI. Certainly burning gasoline in 30% efficient ICEs dumps heat. But AGW is premised on CO2 being the baddie.

Dr. Phil Jones, past top guru at CRU told BBC last week there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995. He's the top priest on this. He says he can't find any warming even with all his measures and data. What more is there?

You may not have heard this because the US press didn't want to report it. Look, we all make mistakes. We all do things we think may be best. That does not make them true. We still need sustainable energy and there are plenty of good reasons for it.


Sullenly may not believe in science, but he and people like him are exactly why his statement holds up -- focus on energy independence rather than trying to educate the un-educable. We will get to the same point with less stress.

The Goracle


A rapid proliferation of oil and gas concessions threatens the Peruvian Amazon, according to a study by a pair of (government paid and/or activist) researchers ...

LOL!!! More people paid to come up with the "correct" future disaster scenario due to man's activities. Maybe some day they will show that their dire predictions actually match what is talking place.

Massive tax increases, draconian losses of freedom, and an ever expanding, incompetent, government are not the answers to Earth's naturally changing climate, or our energy independence. It's almost impossible trying to educate the un-educable but lives depend on it.



Dr. Phil Jones, past top guru at CRU told BBC last week there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995. He's the top priest on this. He says he can't find any warming even with all his measures and data.

No, that's not what he said, the HEADLINES say 'Phil Jones Admits No Global Warming Since 1995' or 'Phil Jones does U-turn' because they don't understand science nor the language scientists use and either do you. Watch this;


Phil Jones apologist ai_vin and significantly British sidekick "potholer" try desperately to spin Professior Jones' agreement there is no statistically significant warming since 1995. Let's look at it in simple question and answer format:

BBC: "Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?"

JONES: "Yes. But only just."

From this point on Mr. Pothole attempts to explain why statistical measure, a foundation of science, is too complicated for newspaper people, weathermen, non climate scientists, and of course YOU, the unwashed. i.e. Why "Yes" means No, you ninny! Sorry Mr. Pot, the days of people buying this glimped-up holier-than-thou claptrap are over.

A straightforward question was answered by the top guru and papal proclamator of climate change - Doc Phil Jones. There has been NO SIGNIFICANT GLOBAL WARMING SINCE 1995. Period. Live with it.


Regarding the above, the climate is changing - always has and always will regardless of what we do. What we don't know is whether we are having an influence and by how much.

The debate about proving who is right on CO2 is simply a waste of time, whilst the elephant in the room is energy security. Personally, I've long had CO2 fatigue with more and more scaremongering no-less highlighted by 'climate gate'

Surely then it is best to focus on sustainable energy and efficiency - this is positive and will reduce CO2 along the was as a precautionary measure. Get a grip!

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