Another year, another major oil spill in Peru

The 20th leak in just five years from a pipeline owned by state oil firm leaves indigenous communities distrustful.

Peru’s state oil company is facing accusations of not doing enough to prevent spills from its pipelines.

In the latest incident, 3,000 barrels of oil have leaked, threatening the environment and local indigenous people such as the Awajun.

It is the 20th oil leak in just five years from a pipeline owned by Petroperu.

Petroperu officials had not inspected the aftermath of the spill when Al Jazeera visited the site. In fact, weeks after the spill, relief efforts for local communities had only just begun.

Asked why spills have become so common, the man in charge of Petroperu’s clean-up operation blames it on everything but the company itself.

“It’s happened several times,” Victor Huarcaya, leader of an emergency response team, told Al Jazeera, “but because of natural causes in the majority of cases or because of sabotage of the pipeline.”

However, a former director of Petroperu says the state firm is under economic pressure and cutting costs frantically to survive, with inevitable consequences.

German Alarco says: “The company itself doesn’t assign enough resources or carry out the necessary activities to make sure the pipeline operates accurately and securely.”

There is distrust from the indigenous communities on the banks of the Chiriaco River towards authorities because they feel that as far as the government is concerned, they are at the bottom of the list of priorities.

The latest spill, and its aftermath, has not helped matters.

Source: Al Jazeera