Amazon Watch Statement on GeoPark's Withdrawal of Its Request for a Drilling Permit in the Peruvian Amazon

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Late on Thursday, June 20th, the Chile-based oil company GeoPark withdrew its request for an environmental permit to begin oil drilling in a concession area known as Block 64, located in the northern Peruvian Amazon. The company's about-face came after a concerted campaign of protests from Indigenous Achuar and Wampi communities opposed to oil drilling on their territories, including detailed critiques of the environmental impact study originally submitted for consideration in early July of 2018.

Among many fatal flaws, the environmental study process only requires the sharing of information with communities that the company deems to be directly impacted. GeoPark failed to properly consult with the broader set of communities that will suffer the environmental, social, and cultural impacts of their project, much less receive their consent as required by international Indigenous rights law.

Block 64 has been an area of historical conflict, as the Indigenous peoples there have repeatedly pushed out international companies seeking to explore for and produce oil, including ARCO, Occidental Petroleum, and Talisman Energy.

Community leaders of the Achuar and Wampis Indigenous peoples have traveled from their remote Amazonian homes to Peru's capital of Lima this week to meet with governmental environmental agencies prior to GeoPark's annual shareholder gathering scheduled for June 27th in Santiago, Chile. In the context of those meetings, fierce local opposition, and intensifying international solidarity with the Achuar and Wampis peoples, GeoPark made its surprise announcement.

Andrew Miller, Amazon Watch Advocacy Director said:

"This reversal is a severe blow to the optimistic timeline GeoPark had been touting to investors for the Situche Central project, pushing their projected date of oil production from the original 2019 into at least 2021. As Indigenous opposition has mounted to GeoPark's project in the Peruvian Amazon, the company's leadership has foolishly attempted to wish it away. GeoPark can no longer ignore the immutable reality that their project has no social licence to operate, much less the consent of the affected Indigenous peoples.

Next week, Achuar and Wampis community leaders will confront GeoPark senior management at the company's annual meeting in Chile, expressing their unwavering resolve to stop oil operations in their tracks.

GeoPark withdrawing their sham environmental impact study is an important step, but nothing short of the definitive cancellation of the Situche Central project and Block 64 itself, located in Achuar and Wampis ancestral territory, will satisfy the local Indigenous vision of defending their culture, territory, and rainforest homelands. This is one more victory in the global movement of Indigenous peoples to lead the way by protecting life and environment, for everyone's benefit."

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