Protests shut Amazon oil pipeline

Peru’s state energy company, Petroperu, has shut its crude oil pipeline in the Amazon basin while the government seeks to end weeks of protests over natural resources, Reuters reported. Indigenous communities have blocked roads and rivers to pressure the government to revoke new investment laws and to revise concessions granted to foreign energy companies.

The 850-kilometre pipeline normally pumps about 40,000 barrels of oil a day, a Petroperu official told Reuters. Dozens of local and foreign energy companies operate in the Amazon rain forest region. Their output has suffered since the protests began in April, and dozens of vessels serving energy companies are stuck along jungle rivers.

Peru is encouraging investment as it attempts to transform itself from a net oil importer into a net exporter. Its new investment laws were approved to facilitate a free-trade agreement with the United States.

Having auctioned off mining and energy concessions throughout most the country, the government has attracted harsh criticism from environmental and human rights groups. They argue that development threatens the environment and risks exposing remote tribes to new and deadly diseases.

The government already has declared a state of emergency in the central regions of Loreto, Amazonas, Ucayali and Cuzco, a move that allows it to send in troops and impose curfews to break up protests.

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