Pluspetrol halts 1AB output as protests intensify

Friday, June 5, 2009

Operator Pluspetrol Norte has completely stopped production at block 1AB due to escalating unrest in northern Peru's jungle area.

The company has pulled workers from the block, which normally produces 15,000b/d, Pluspetrol said in a statement.

Pluspetrol meanwhile is nearing storage capacity for oil produced at nearby block 8, which normally churns out 17,000b/d. If protests do not subside, the company will start halting production at block 8 the week starting June 8, Pluspetrol told BNamericas in an official statement.

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State oil company Petroperú in April stopped operations along the 852km Norperuano pipeline that transports crude from the country's jungle north to the coast. Protesters in the area have halted operations of a pumping station.

Community groups are not directly protesting against Pluspetrol nor Petroperú; instead they are upset about European energy company Perenco's plans to develop block 67 in areas reportedly inhabited by indigenous groups.

Protests have also impacted operations at hydrocarbons transporter TGP, which moves Camisea natural gas and NGLs from block 88 to the coast. TGP, which moved 7.06Mm3/d in the first quarter, recently said it had implemented a contingency plan to guarantee supply.

Unrest has intensified in recent days as clashes between the police and protesters reportedly have turned violent, Gregor MacLennan of NGO Amazon Watch told BNamericas. Reports surfaced over the weekend of fatal confrontations between protesters and police.

Government authorities have hosted talks to resolve the dispute, although little progress has been made, MacLennan said.

Indigenous groups are concerned about the development model being implemented in the region and have few outlets through which they can express their concerns to authorities, he said.