Burlington Pulls Out of Block 64 in Peru

US-based oil company Burlington Resources is awaiting formal approval from Peru's energy and mines ministry to withdraw from block 64 because of indigenous opposition to exploration, company spokesperson James Bartlett told BNamericas from Houston.

Burlington reached an agreement with fellow US oil company Occidental Petroleum, which operates the block earlier this year to withdraw from the block, when Burlington's 25% share will revert to Oxy, Bartlett said. The block is in force majeure due to the opposition from indigenous groups. "We no longer have any interest in the block at all," Bartlett said. "We still have interests in Peru and we're interested in additional exploratory opportunities there."

Occidental will continue exploration and work towards a compromise with the indigenous community, Reuters reported. Occidental was immediately unavailable to confirm this when contacted by BNamericas.

Representatives from the Achuar ethnic group in Peru's northern tropical rainforest region are lobbying Peru's congress to annul the concession. They say lead and mercury deposits left from past oil work has leaked into ground water supplies and is killing their tribal elders, warning they are ready to take up arms against the oil companies, Reuters reported. Burlington and Occidental won a contract with Peru's government in 1999 to explore 800,000ha in the Loreto region.

About Business News Americas: Business News Americas is a multilingual news and business information service that covers the most important original stories in 11 different business sectors throughout Latin America everyday. Visit BNamericas to access our real-time news reports, 7-year archive, Fact File company database, and latest research reports.

Click here for a Free two week trial to our Latin America Oil & Gas information service.