LIMA – Peru’s prime minister told lawmakers Thursday that state-owned PetroPeru lacks the technical expertise, specialized equipment and financial resources to operate Lot 192, the country’s largest oil block.
“It would be irresponsible for technical reasons to assign this task to PetroPeru. It lacks the technical personnel, it doesn’t have the necessary equipment and the government lacks the funds to allocate the 700 million soles (some $212 million)” needed for crude production, Pedro Cateriano said.
The rights to develop Lot 192 were awarded for two years to Pacific Stratus Energy, a unit of Toronto-based Pacific Rubiales Energy, to maintain production after a failed international bidding process, he added.
But authorities and indigenous and grassroots groups in the northern region of Loreto, where the block is located, have criticized that process and are demanding that the government take over operation of Lot 192 to guarantee the correction of environmental liabilities.
“At present, PetroPeru is immersed in the process of upgrading the Talara refinery, a megaproject that is the government’s exclusive responsibility,” Energy and Mines Minister Rosa Maria Ortiz, who accompanied Cateriano during his appearance before Congress, told the legislators.
Lot 192, located near Peru’s border with Ecuador, yields around 11,000 barrels of crude per day from 16 wells and accounts for 17 percent of the country’s total oil production.
The block had been developed since 2001 by Argentine oil company Pluspetrol.
With that firm’s contract expiring on Saturday and a recent international bidding process failing to attract interest, the Peruvian government directly awarded the block to Pacific Stratus Energy last Friday.
Indigenous communities accuse Pluspetrol of polluting the area and not paying compensation for use of their ancestral lands.