Peruvian Rain Forest Oil Drilling Given the Green Light

The rainforests of Peru, which are the second-largest portion of the Amazon rain forest, after the Brazilian Amazon, are under threat.

RainforestMaker has learned that Repsol, a Spanish multinational oil and gas company headquartered in Madrid, has been given the green light to begin drilling for oil in one area that is protected and another that has been proposed for federal protection.

The target region is in a remote area of the jungle, bordering on Ecuador. The project will involve conducting a series a seismic tests across an areas covering 680 square kilometers, as well as drilling a minimum of 21 wells.

These kinds of operations are incredibly disruptive to the delicate rainforest ecosystem, which is one of the most biologically diverse regions on earth, home to scores of unique species not found anywhere else, including:

  • 21 percent of the world’s unique butterfly species;
  • 19 percent of its birds;
  • 11 percent of its fish;
  • 10 percent of its ferns and mammals;
  • 8 percent of its amphibians;
  • 7 percent of its flowering plants;
  • 5 percent of its reptiles.

These are only those unique species that have been discovered. In terms of total numbers, the Peruvian Amazon is home to 44 percent of all bird species and 63 percent of all mammal species.

In addition, the area that Repsol has marked for drilling is the same area that has been proposed as a reserve for indigenous people who live under what Peruvian law terms, “voluntary isolation.” That is, they may or may not be aware there is an outside world, and for whatever reason, they have chosen not to engage it. This should unquestionably be respected, as their culture, language and way of life is extremely vulnerable to outside contact.

The reserve was first proposed back in 2003 to keep miners, loggers and yes, gas and oil companies, at a safe distance.

Now, the Peruvian government, perhaps plied with very profitable returns should oil be found, has released a statement saying it questions whether these indigenous people even exist in this region. The last spotting of peoples there was by helicopter in 2008. The fact that they haven’t been seen since doesn’t mean they don’t exist. The jungle is remote and the forestry thick. These people have survived for hundreds if not thousands of years precisely because they are able to blend in with their surroundings.

La Organización de Pueblos Indígenas del Oriente, an organization dedicated to the protection of indigenous populations, has released a statement asserting that allowing Repsol’s operations to move forward would be a “brutal, unwitting way of making sure they disappear – for nothing more than outside economic interests.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Repsol has said it is sensitive to the biodiversity of the region and will be careful to do nothing without the government’s permission. But that may not be enough to protect the people, animals or plants that call this region home.

What we need in the Amazon is a global response to rescue our shrinking rainforests. Drilling for oil certainly does not serve to further that goal.

To learn more about how you can get involved in protecting the rainforest, one of our most precious global resources, contact Rainforest Maker, headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, at (877) 763.6778 or e-mail us at or visit .