ConocoPhillips Pulls Out of the Nanay — Pressure from Citizens the Cause?

Today, October 5th, ConocoPhillips announced its plans to pull out of oil lots 123 and 129 on the Nanay River Basin, and hand over its interests and operating license to oil company, GranTierra Energy. When asked why, Vice President of ConocoPhillips, Larry Archibald said, “After careful consideration, we reached this decision as part of the company’s broader strategic effort to re-evaluate our investments and asset portfolio since becoming an independent E&P company.”

However, some speculate that the company´s plans to pull out come from the wide-spread resistance by the Peruvian population, largely in the city of Iquitos, against the oil company´s activities. The Nanay River Basin is renowned for its endemic biodiversity, and much of it is designated as “protected areas” by the regional government. It’s also the ancestral home to numerous indigenous groups who say they were never consulted by the government nor ConocoPhillips to begin oil activity in the area, which are requirements under international law. Additionally, the Nanay River Basin supplies over 90% of the drinking water supply to the city of Iquitos.

After several city-wide protests, the population of Iquitos has not made it easy for the oil giant or the Loreto regional government to continue its plans. ¨We are pleased with the news, but now we must work even harder to get the regional government to respect its own laws and declare a moratorium on extractive activity in the Nanay,¨ says Matthew Watherston, founder of Alianza Arkana and major supporter of the Iquitos Water Committee, referring to two previous decisions by the regional government to prevent extractive activity on the Nanay.

Gran Tierra Energy currently holds interest in oil lots 95, 107, 122, 123, 124, 128, 129, and 133  in the Peruvian Amazon. Just last year the company halted its operation in oil lot 122.

Deborah Rivett, Friday, 05 October 2012

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