GeoPark Peru is prohibited from entering the territory under representation of the Achuar indigenous federation, FENAP, according to a public announcement issued by the federation last week and received by GeoPark on December 14th. The notification comes after the state oil company, PetroPeru, announced on December 1st that GeoPark would assume a 75% working interest in Block 64, an Amazonian oil block boasting at least 40 million barrels of light crude proven reserves that overlaps with Achuar territory.
"We have lived through the bad experience of damages to our habitat, health, and life as a result of activities related to the Northern Peruvian Oil Pipeline and activities of the oil company Talisman, from which there continue to be environmental liabilities, in part within our territory, that to date have not been remediated," the Achuar wrote in the statement. "Given this we have taken the firm decision to not permit any oil activity within our territory."
FENAP's public notification, original in Spanish available here and translated into English below, prohibits all oil activities within the territory of the Achuar People of the Pastaza Basin, as represented by FENAP, including any "hydrocarbon exploration or extraction activities, installation of work camps and any other related activity found within." The prohibition specifically names GeoPark Peru, as well as state oil company PetroPeru.
Citing this extensive overlap with its territory and the lack of any free, prior and informed consent or consultation process, FENAP called for the nullification of the December 1st, 2016 executive order in which the state oil company, PetroPeru, ceded 75% of its contractual ownership to GeoPark Peru.
FENAP further called for the nullification of the various oil concessions (Blocks 64, 166, and 196) that overlap Achuar ancestral territory, given their creation without proper consultation or consent of the Achuar as stipulated by international law and jurisprudence. This is one of three demands the Achuar filed in a lawsuit before Peruvian courts, including formal legal recognition of their collective territory and recognition of their federation FENAP as the representative governing body of the Achuar people, as opposed to simply a civic association.
GeoPark's statements about its intentions for the territory represented by FENAP have been contradictory at best. On one hand, in response to inquiries from Reuters and as printed in an article published December 9th, GeoPark indicated that it only intends to initiate operations in Block 64 in an area where communities not affiliated with FENAP have allegedly supported oil operations, and it said in a statement to Reuters that it "respects the rights of indigenous people and would not seek to develop areas where local populations are opposed to drilling activity."
However, in its press statement issued December 1st, GeoPark indicates implicit interest in expanding exploration and extraction activities throughout Block 64, the majority of which is found within territory pertaining to FENAP.
"The Achuar position against oil development hasn't changed since Block 64 was created without consultation in 1995," stated Amazon Watch's Andrew Miller, Advocacy Director based in Washington, DC. "Yet somehow GeoPark thinks it can be successful where Talisman, Occidental, and others before have failed."
Since Block 64 was demarcated in 1995, a series of international oil companies have pursued involvement as operators or investors in the block, including Arco, Occidental, and Talisman. In the latter case, Achuar leaders traveled to Canada on multiple occasions between 2008 and 2012 to communicate the will of their people to exclude any oil activities from their territory. In September of 2012, Talisman announced it would be leaving Block 64. The block was then transferred to PetroPeru, which signed initial joint investment and operating agreements with GeoPark in October of 2014.
"If it is truly committed to respecting the will of local communities, GeoPark should renounce the portion of Block 64 that overlaps the collective territorial claims of Achuar communities under FENAP, in a procedure called 'suelta de área'," explained Miller. "There are precedents: ConocoPhillips gave back half of Block 104 after Achuar protests in 2006 and Chinese oil company SAPET renounced half of Block 113 because it overlapped a territorial reserve for uncontacted indigenous peoples. In short, GeoPark would be smart to cut its losses before investing hundreds of millions for paltry returns, as Talisman did, because the Achuar will ultimately keep the majority of the block off limits."
Jurisdictional Decision of the Achuar People of Pastaza Basin – FENAP
Prohibition Against Entering and Carrying Out Oil Activities Within Territories of the Achuar People of Pastaza Basin – FENAP
San Lorenzo – December 3rd, 2016
(Translation by Andrew Miller, Amazon Watch)
The steering council of the Peruvian National Achuar Federation (FENAP), the self-government and representative institution of the Achuar indigenous people of the Pastaza River basin, is making public the following JURISDICTIONAL DECISIONS adopted in our general assembly, based in our own legal system, Article 149 of the Peruvian Political Constitution, and international law, which should be adhered to by all public and private individuals and institutions, of whatever nationality:
I. ABOUT THE ACHUAR OF THE PASTAZA BASIN
- The Achuar indigenous people of the Pastaza River basin is an indigenous people or First Nation that has existed since before the Peruvian state, has its own cultural identity, language, way of life, institutions, integral ancestral territory, population, authorities and own norms. We have lived since time immemorial in the territory located between the watersheds of the Huasaga, Huituyacu, and Manchari Rivers, tributaries of the Pastaza River and part of the Morona River basin, found in the districts of Andoas, Pastaza, and Morona, in the province of Datem del Marañon, Loreto Region.
- Our self-government and representative institution is the Peruvian National Achuar Federation (FENAP), which has a steering council at the level of our nation, and is made up of three (3) federations organized by river basins – ATI, ORACH, and AIM – and 45 communities.
- As the First Nation that we are, we have our own legal system and benefit from the rights recognized in Peru's Political Constitution and internal law around indigenous rights, such as the International Labor Organization's indigenous Peoples Convention 169, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Among the intrinsic rights we have are included the right to life and integrity, self-determination, autonomy, property over our integral ancestral territory, and free, prior, and informed consultation and consent.
- We have lived through the bad experience of damages to our habitat, health, and life as a result of activities related to the Northern Peruvian Oil Pipeline and activities of the oil company Talisman, from which there continue to be environmental liabilities, in part within our territory, that to date have not been remediated. Given this we have taken the firm decision to not permit any oil activity within our territory. As part of this decision, we have expelled five oil companies that entered our territory without our consent.
- We stand by the firm decision of keeping our territory clean and conserving it for future generations.
II. JURISDICTIONAL DECISIONS FOR OBLIGATORY COMPLIANCE
- Prohibition of all oil activities within the territory of the Achuar People of the Pastaza Basin, as represented by FENAP, or that which could negatively affect us, which includes hydrocarbons exploration or extraction activities, installation of work camps and any other related activity or found within.
- Prohibition of the entry of PERUPETRO, PETROPERU, GEOPARK PERU S.A.C or any other oil company into the territory of the Achuar People of Pastaza Basin – FENAP, or any people associated with said companies or activities.
- Nullification of oil lots 64, 166, and 196, which, put together, overlap 100% of our territory, and all actions carried out by the State or third-parties that establish oil lots, concessions, authorizations, contracts, concession of rights or any other related act, which might negatively affect us, which were not consulted and don't have the free, prior, and informed consent of the Assembly of the Achuar People – FENAP, and which run counter to our Life Plan and decisions taken by the Assembly.
- Nullification of Supreme Decree # 031-2016-MEM, published on December 1st of 2016, which approves the ceding of 75% of the rights of the contractual position of PETROPERU to GEOPARK PERU S.A.C. for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in Lot 64, which overlaps some 2/3 of our territory, for not having been consulted or having the free, prior, and informed consent of the Assembly of the Achuar People – FENAP, and which run counter to our Life Plan and decisions taken by the Assembly.
- Nullification of any State action which run counter to our Life Plan and jurisdictional decisions taken by the Assembly of the Achuar People – FENAP, which were communicated by FENAP to the new government, the Executive and Legislative Branches, through the Public Letter which was received on August 17th, 2016.
- Sanction and expulsion of any person, whether individual or juridical, from any nationality, that enters our territory without authorization of the Assembly and that doesn't abide by the jurisdictional decisions of the Achuar People of Pastaza – FENAP, or who carries out any act that might negatively affect us in any way.
III. REQUEST FOR SUPPORT THROUGH COORDINATION
For coordination purposes, the steering council of FENAP asks the Peruvian governmental authorities to help out through use of public forces, to make these decisions effective based on article 149 of the Constitution.
President, FENAP (Jeremías Petsein Peas)
Vicepresident, FENAP (Gedeón Tsamarin Chumap)
President, AIM (Mejeant Tumits)
President, ORACH (Angel Tsamaren Chumap)
President, ATI (Santiago Candashi Baldomero)
Women's representative (Melita Kunchim Sumpinianch)
Territorial coordinator, ORACH (Aaron Chumap Masurash)
Territorial coordinator, ATI (Manolo Kunchim Sumpinianch)