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Petrobras oil exploration and illegal logging in Murunahua indigenous reserve, Ucayali, Peru

Petrobras acquired a concession in the middle of the Peruvian Amazon but after critique abandoned the project for the moment. Meanwhile, isolated communities face existential threats from illegal loggers who invade their territories.


Currently a number of oil explorations are taking place in the Peruvian Amazon regions of Ucayali and Madre de Dios. One of these explorations was launched in 2005 by Petrobras Energía del Peru S.A. in an area that overlaps with almost the entire reserve of the Murunahua (also known as Chitonahua) indigenous group. Although the exploration project was abolished after protests, threats to communities living to a large extent in isolation remain, especially through conflicts with illegal loggers in their territories.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Petrobras oil exploration and illegal logging in Murunahua indigenous reserve, Ucayali, Peru
State or province:Ucayali
Location of conflict:Yurúa, Antonio Raymondi
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Land acquisition conflicts
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Lot 110: 1,4 million ha

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Project area:1,4 million ha (Lot 110)
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:15,000 (isolated people in whole Peru, whereas the number in Murunahua is much lower)
Start of the conflict:01/07/2005
Company names or state enterprises:Perupetro from Peru - In charge of the managing / distributing of oil and gas concessions
Ecopetrol from Colombia - Took over a share of two Petrobras concessions in Peru
Petrobras Energía del Peru S.A. from Peru - Acquired concessions in Lot 110
Relevant government actors:Indian Affairs Department (INDEPA)
Peru’s Ministry of Culture
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Association Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana (AIDESEP)
Apiwtxa Association
Upper Amazon Conservancy
SOS Amazônia
Grupo de Trabalho para a proteção transfronteiriça da Serra do Divisor e Alto Juruá, Brasil-Peru
Organización Regional Aidesep Ucayali (ORAU)
Oilwatch Sudamerica
World Rainforest Movement
Peruvian Association for Nature Conservation (APECO)
Articulación por un Movimiento de Afectados por la Industria Petrolera en Países Amazónicos (MAIPPA)
Comissão Pró-Índio do Acre
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Murunahua (also known as Chitonahua) indigenous group
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Air pollution, Soil contamination, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Infectious diseases, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Land dispossession
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Application of existing regulations
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:Strengthen local authorities and institutions to combat illegal loggers and drug trafficking and thereby consider the needs of isolated indigenous population. To legitimize that, increase public awareness for the issues of isolated communities without reproducing exotic, essentialized images. Ensure land demarcation.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Ongoing awareness raising, documentation and public campaigns by some NGOs and indigenous associations have ensured that the threats to isolated communities in the region could not have been simply swept aside by government actors, which assumingly also made Petrobras leave. However, illegal logging and drug trafficking seem to become out of control in the whole region and there are no tangible measures in sight that would let assume that there is a political will and/or capability to effectively protect the Amazon forest and the rights of isolated communities.
Sources & Materials
Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

10. APIWTXA (2008): Os Ashaninka tornam pública sua posição quanto à prospecção. 14.08.2008. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

11. Terra Portal (2009): ONG se preocupa com exploração de petróleo no Peru. 20.03.2009. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

14. Pontes, F. (2010): Na Amazônia peruana, Petrobras fica de fora de reserva indígena. A Gazeta do Acre, 23.05.2010. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

1. Survival (2018): Los indígenas aislados. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

6. Fellet, J. (2012): Na fronteira Brasil-Peru, índios se mobilizam contra obras binacionais. BBC Brasil, 23.04.2012. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

8. Survival (2009): Colombian oil company to enter uncontacted tribes. 20.03.2009. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

9. AIDESEP (2007): Perú: Aidesep rechaza subasta de lotes petroleros que afectaran a pueblos aislados. 07.02.2007. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

15. Survival (2011): Peru in shock move to abolish uncontacted tribe’s reserve. 08.06.2011. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

3. The Guardian Online (2014): Amazon tribe makes first contact with outside world. 01.08.2014. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

4. Fellet, J. (2012): Funai alerta para risco de genocídio de índios isolados no Acre. BBC Brazil, 19.04.2012. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

7. Machado, A. (2008): Blog of the Apiwtxa Association, 24.08.2008. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

5. The Guardian (2014): Peru evacuates Amazon village after raid by indigenous tribe. 23.12.2014. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

16. Mongabay News (2011): Peru to abolish uncontacted tribe’s reserve, says group. 01.06.2011. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

17. Upper Amazon Conservancy (2010): Peru: Illegal Mahagony Logging Continues in Reserve for Uncontacted Tribes. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

18. Upper Amazon Conservancy (2013): Evidence of Isolated Tribe Found in the Murunahua Territorial Reserve. March 2013. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

21. The Guardian (2014): Amazon tribe makes first contact with outside world. 01.08.2014. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

20. Upper Amazon Conservancy (2015): Peru announces plan to protect isolated tribe near Manu National Park. July 2015. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

2. Survival (2009): Uncontacted tribes face extinction. A Survival International Report – May 29, 2009. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

13. Hance, J. (2010): More of the Amazon opened to oil development. Mongabay News, 24.05.2010. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

19. Upper Amazon Conservancy (2011): Upper Amazon Conservancy Investigation Exposes Illegal Logging in Murunahua Reserve. August 2011. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Índios isolados - 1º contato no Acre
[click to view]

Funai divulga imagens de índios isolados feitas por drones
[click to view]

Lost Peruvian tribe make first contact
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Max Stoisser
Last update09/11/2018
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