Peru’s Secret Plans of Pursuing Gas in Uncontacted Tribe Land Revealed
A Nanti man. His tribe's land is set to be invaded as Peru furthers its gas exploration into protected areas. Survival International

Secret plans of Peru to exploit gas reserves inside protected tribal land have been revealed. Such attempts inside the uncontacted tribe area will be a clear violation of laws that prevent such projects.

The Nahua-Nanti Reserve in southeast Peru is known for its uncontacted Amazon tribes, but more controversially, for a wide stretch of gas fields called the Camisea project.

In April, 2012, Peru's Ministry of Mines and Energy gave the Camisea consortium the green light for more gas exploration despite the fact that one gas block already dominates the reserve.

According to Survival International, the human rights organisation, Peru has gone further, releasing plans for the country's first state-owned oil block, which will be inside the legally protected area.

Known as Fitzcarrald, and owned by PetroPeru, Survival has revealed the new site is projected to be east of Camisea's Block 88. If confirmed, its location will cut the Nahua-Nanti Reserve in half, and put uncontacted tribes' lives in danger.

Peru's indigenous organisation FENAMAD says: "There is no doubt the government is attempting to cut up indigenous territories for gas exploration...which will be reflected in the genocide and ethnocide of indigenous peoples."

The new plans are a clear violation of a 2003 Supreme Decree prohibiting any new development of natural resources inside the Nahua-Nanti Reserve. The plans directly ignore the new UN guidelines on the protection of uncontacted Indians in the Amazon.

Instead of backing the UN's landmark report, which supports the tribes' right to be left alone, Peru is allowing the country's largest gas project to expand further into indigenous territories known to house numerous uncontacted Indians.

The new UN guidance makes clear that uncontacted tribes' land should be untouchable, and that "no rights should be granted that involve the use of natural resources."

The expansion plan adds to existing controversies around Argentine gas giant Pluspetrol and its notorious Camisea project in southeast Peru.

"These steps not only jeopardise the future of uncontacted and contacted tribes in the reserve, but also go entirely against the law. Previous gas exploration in this area has decimated Indian tribes, so it's astonishing that the government is prepared to contemplate history repeating itself, and doesn't appear to care what the consequences are," stated Survival's Director Stephen Corry.

Past oil and gas exploration in Peru has resulted in violent and disastrous contact with isolated Indians.