Anchiway residents take Perú LNG natural gas camp, claim gas pipeline likely to cause irreparable ecological damage

Residents of the Andean community of Anchiway, located in Peru’s south central Department of Ayacucho, have taken Perú LNG & Techint Co.’s gas camp, and are currently keeping more than 300 workers hostage.

Local farmers have also blocked off food supply to the gas camp, and have threatened to cut off water and energy supply if their demands are not met soon.

Perú LNG Gas Co. and Techint Engineering and Construction, or Techint E&C, are currently building a gas pipeline across the Suyubamba River and local farmers claim that the river and their crops would be affected by irreparable ecological damage if a gas spill, or leak, were to occur. The farmers also claim that Perú LNG promised to pay Anchiway a royalty for occupying a parcel of its territory and to cover road maintenance costs, but that the company has yet to foot the bill.

According to Perú LNG, the farmers should not be protesting, given that a contract was signed between Anchiway and the gas company in 2007, allowing for the installation and construction of the gas pipeline.

The Suyubamba pipeline is part of the larger Camisea gas pipeline and natural gas extraction project.

Though the world-class Camisea Project is one of Latin America’s key energy infrastructure projects, the construction and use of two pipelines as well as a distribution network that would make natural gas widely available for domestic consumption and export, has been a drawn out process, plagued by delays.

Repeated leaks and explosions have plagued the twin pipelines that cut across the rainforest and Andean highlands to transport the gas to the coast at the port of Pisco and to the liquified natural gas plant near Cañete, located 170 kilometers south of Lima.

In 2006, in a public hearing held by the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, it was claimed that the pipes had been constructed without sufficient quality control and with negligence as far as the materials and specialized workmanship were concerned; and that the pressure to meet contract deadlines coupled with a lack of financial resources had brought about these consequences. The accusation indicated that there were several weak sections throughout the length of the pipeline that could suffer future failures. Weeks earlier, a similar but scarcely noted report had been filed by OSINERGMIN, the regulating organism and supervisor of the investment in energy.

In 2005, the Camisea gas pipeline suffered its fourth spill in only 15 months of operation. According to estimates from OSINERG, the Peruvian government agency that regulates investment in the energy sector, as much as 6,000 barrels of gas liquids were spilled, making this the worst accident since the pipeline was inaugurated in mid-2004.

The Camisea Gas Consortium is formed by Pluspetrol of Argentina and Transportadora de Gas del Peru, TGP, which is owned by Pluspetrol, Hunt Oil of the US, Brussels-based Suez-Tractebel, SK Corporation of Korea, Algerian state-owned Sonatrach, and the Peruvian construction and energy group Graña y Montero.

The LNG Plant at Pampa Melchorita in Cañete, on the coast south of Lima, is owned by Hunt Oil (50%) SK Energy of Korea (20%), and Repsol YPF of Argentina (20%).

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