LIMA – Peru’s Congress has enacted a law that allows state-owned oil firm PetroPeru to resume drilling and develop the nation’s largest oil block, despite opposition from President Ollanta Humala’s administration.
Also included in the law, published Friday in the official gazette, is a measure that declares the modernization of PetroPeru’s Talara refinery in northern Peru to be a project of “public need and national interest.”
The new law authorizes Perupetro, the state-run agency tasked with awarding oil exploration and production concessions, to sign a contract with PetroPeru for the development of Lot 192, which is located in the northern region of Loreto and is the country’s largest block.
On Oct. 22, Peru’s Congress overrode Humala’s veto of the bill in a 74-10 vote.
Humala’s administration opposed the legislation, saying PetroPeru’s efforts should be focused on the refinery and noting that a two-year contract to develop Lot 192 was signed in August with Canadian company Pacific Exploration and Production Corp.
Previous legislation – effectively annulled by the new law – had prevented PetroPeru from taking on new debt for drilling operations before it finishes the refinery modernization, local media reported.
Indigenous communities in the remote region where the block is located have demanded compensation for the use of their lands and for environmental damage they say was caused by Argentina’s Pluspetrol, which developed the block from 2001 until the end of August 2015.
The indigenous protesters have also called for PeruPetro take over operation of the block.
Lot 192, located near Peru’s border with Ecuador, yields around 11,000 barrels of crude from 16 wells and accounts for 17 percent of the country’s total oil production.