Colombia’s state oil company Ecopetrol is set to enter territory inhabited by some of the world’s last uncontacted indigenous peoples in the Peruvian Amazon under an agreement reached this week. Ecopetrol signed a deal with Brazil’s state oil company, Petrobras, which has a contract to explore in two regions—both inhabited by uncontacted tribes.
"Through its affiliate in Perú, Ecopetrol entered into two agreements with Petrobras Energía del Perú, S.A. to acquire shared [sic]in two exploration and production blocks in Perú," reads a statement from Ecopetrol. "In the first block (Lot 110), Ecopetrol will have a 50% share. In the second (Lot 117), the company’s holding will be 25%."
Lot 110 covers almost all of a reserve supposedly set aside for uncontacted Murunahua bands who are exceedingly vulnerable to any contact with outsiders because of their lack of immunity to disease. Some Murunahua have already been contacted by illegal loggers; an estimated 50% of them were wiped out as a result.
Secoya and Kichua also inhabit the territory along the Napo and Putumayo rivers, in the north of municipal province Maynas, Loreto region. The lands in question are part of the Güeppí Reserve, officially put aside as a protected area in 1997. Lot 117 also includes part of a proposed reserve for uncontacted indigenous peoples. The creation of the reserve is supported by local Organización Regional de Pueblos Indígenas del Oriente (ORPIO) and national Amazonian indigenous organization AIDESEP.
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