Environment

How Big Oil is Destroying the Amazon Rainforest

Deep in the Amazon rainforest, indigenous tribes are fighting a loosing battle against the merciless force of big oil.

posted on 11/24/2010
Rich Morgan
Scribol Staff

Amazon rainforest in PeruPhoto: Martin St-Amant

In the depths of the Amazon rainforest, big oil are stockpiling materials in anticipation of permission to start turning another area inhabited by indigenous people into an oil production facility. The Peruvian government have already given permission for miles of pipeline, which crisscross the pristine wilderness.

The Anglo-French oil company Perenco stated it has flown 50,000 tones of materials into the jungle and carried out preliminary drilling work in preparation for large-scale oil extraction. It is estimated that 75% of the Peruvian rainforest is open to gas and oil exploitation. The area of Perenco’s intended oil plant (known as block 67) is home to two uncontacted indigenous tribes, as well as thousands of species of animals and plants.

Throughout the Amazon still exist ancient tribes, many of which have been decimated by diseases caught through interaction with outsiders.Photo: JialiangGao

Human rights groups insist that by allowing the oil companies into the forest to exploit reserves, they are threatening the local human population with disease and are provoking possible violent retaliation. In June of 2009, 23 security officers were killed, some with spears, when local tribesmen protested against the oil companies’ activities in the area. Indigenous leaders stated over 40 Indians, including three children, were also killed during the clashes.

In May, the Peruvian oil and gas leasing body offered up another 25 drilling permits for land within the Amazon rainforest. In total over 10 million hectares of the Peruvian Amazon is now available for development. Over 40% of the Peru’s rainforest is now covered with 52 oil and gas concessions, many of which infringe on protected areas and indigenous territory.

Rainforests are the most biodiverse environments on the planet.Photo: Shao

Now over 50 separate NGOs have signed a letter accusing the Peruvian government of disregarding the extensive evidence of the effect this type of construction will have in both environmental and humanitarian terms.

Existing pipeline networks are being expanded and continual oil plant construction is set to follow. And with it, the destruction of an ancient people, as well as the probable extinction of species, some of which we have yet to discover.

The second oil war, taking place in the depths of the forest, between those who would defend their homes with spears and arrows, and those who would take it with assault rifles and helicopters, is even more unjust and shameless than the first. Peru’s government share only part of the blame, all developed states, with their self-destructive addiction to oil and fossil fuels, have the blood of the Amazon on their hands.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Rich Morgan
Scribol Staff