ConocoPhillips Abandons Amazon Oil Drilling Project

Just days ago, ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva announced that his company would discontinue its involvement in a controversial oil drilling project in a remote area of the northern Peruvian Amazon.

The oil company had been under fire from environmental and human rights organizations for its involvement in a joint venture with Repsol-YPF in an area known as “Oil Block 39.”

The operation was seen as a threat to the indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation in the Oil Block 39 region, and organizations claim the local tribes risked forced displacement and deadly epidemic as a result of the oil companies’ presence there.

The region that contains Oil Block 39 is considered to be one of the most biodiverse in the world and is home to at least two uncontacted indigenous tribes. Uncontacted Indians lack immunity to diseases brought by oil workers and could react violently if their lands are at threat.

Last year, more than 50 international NGOs signed a letter asking oil companies Repsol, Perenco and ConocoPhillips to withdraw immediately from the region.

“Oil operations in regions inhabited by isolated indigenous peoples presents [sic] an unavoidable and unacceptable risk to their continued survival,” said Mitch Anderson, Corporate Campaigns Director at Amazon Watch. “It is crucial now that remaining operators in the region, Perenco and Repsol, follow ConocoPhillips’ lead and withdraw from these controversial oil blocks.”

Amazon Watch reports that the Peruvian government has disregarded the extensive anthropological evidence supporting the existence of uncontacted tribes in this region and the lead operator of Block 39, Repsol-YPF, continues seismic exploration while the Anglo-French company Perenco pushes ahead with production in Block 67.

“If these global businesses truly care about ethical responsibility they cannot continue to work in areas where they are endangering peoples’ lives,” said Survival International director Stephen Corry. “It is not possible to obtain uncontacted tribes’ permission to work in these oil blocks, so the only logical conclusion is that they should keep off their land.”

ConocoPhillips held a 45% interest in Block 39 in a co-venture with Repsol-YPF, the block operator and majority owner. The company did not reveal the buyer of their stake.

To urge Peruvian President Alan Garcia to protect uncontacted tribes, sign the petition here.

Related Reading:

Illegal Mahogany Logging Threatens Uncontacted Tribes In Peru
Uncontacted Tribes Threatened by Illegal Logging in the Amazon

Amazon Chief Teams with Google to Save His Tribe

Image Credit: Flickr - Daveness_98


Joy Dantine
Joy Dantine6 years ago


James T.
James Taylor6 years ago

Robyn B. - I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately when it comes to Big Oil, the only language they understand is in terms of who owns what. I believe they would drill just about anywhere if they had the money and the means. The strongest argument to get them off the land is to say that they don't own it and have no right to start tearing it up. Obviously the Peruvian Gov't are just as corrupt, by choosing to ignore the evidence for the tribes, and also by allowing yet another piece of (increasingly rare) unspoilt jungle home to plants and animals become a polluted muddy wasteland

Robyn B.
Robyn B6 years ago

I'm concerned that the only argument presented in the article against oil drilling in the Amazon was an anthropocentric one. What about the environmental damage to native plant and animal species? It's time we stop thinking only of our own species above all others.

Robert B.
Robert B6 years ago

Very Good News!

caterina caligiuri

Signed....great news

Sarah Solaban
Sarah Solaban6 years ago

Posted to Facebook that I signed.

Chris P.
Chris P6 years ago

I signed, but am not able to share any of CARE2's petitions in twitter.

Patricia Hughes
Patricia Hughes6 years ago

Great news!

Celine V.
Celine V6 years ago

Nice to hear. A good news per day is well taken!

Angela R.
Angela R6 years ago

Glad they are going - wish they would clean up after themselves before they leave!