Canadian newspaper article reports on concerns about Frontera Energy’s past operations in Peru

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: “Natanael Sandi’s job as an environmental monitor is to track and report the oil contamination. On this excursion in December, 2022, he stops by Frontera’s abandoned offices.” Photo by Patrick Murayari.

In a feature article titled Hollow core, Tavia Grant reports in The Globe and Mail on Frontera Energy operations in Peru.

The Calgary-based company currently operates in Ecuador, Guyana and Colombia, where it has been implicated in the criminalization of social leaders who raised concerns about the impact of the company’s oil operations on the community of San Luis de Palenque.

Grant notes that Peru awarded Frontera operations in an area known as Block 192 in the northern Amazon region – home to the Quechua, Achuar and Kichwa peoples – in 2015 and that their contract expired in February 2021.

Grant highlights: “Environmental emergencies in Block 192 have not been uncommon over the decades, but during Frontera’s time in the area, Peru’s environmental regulator recorded 113 of them. Although it can be difficult to know when specific oil contamination occurred, the oily water [Natanael] Sandi [n environmental monitor for the village of Jose Olaya] brought The Globe and Mail to is a few minutes’ drive from a facility formerly used by Frontera.”

She also explains: “Frontera was hit with 33 environmental fines from Peru’s Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement, between 2017 and 2022, in part for spills and their potential impacts on water, flora, fauna and human health.”

And she notes:

In 2021, two United Nations special rapporteurs on human rights sounded the alarm over the dearth of efforts to clean up oil pollution in the block. Decades of contamination “has threatened absolutely everything these communities need for survival – their crops, water, fish, forest and sacred sites,” said the experts. “At the same time, these communities do not have proper health facilities to adequately address their medical issues.”

That same year, as Frontera’s contract was expiring, the company faced criticism among communities in the Amazon about its environmental record.

The actions of Frontera “have caused great indignation and discomfort as well as serious concerns due to the continued impact that the five years of activity has generated in our fragile territories and Indigenous communities,” noted an open letter from Indigenous leaders in the territory to Frontera, adding that this has damaged the lives of the nearly 7,000 people who live in the area.

The company declined The Globe’s interview request with its chief executive officer, Orlando Cabrales Segovia, as it said it no longer operates in Peru.

The article also includes a critique of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) and highlights that some non-governmental organizations “are actively discouraging people from filing complaints.”

It adds: “They say it’s a waste of time and effort, owing to the CORE’s lack of power to investigate, its lack of independence from the federal government, and – if an abuse is deemed founded – its inability to force a company to fix the harm.”

And it quotes Catherine Coumans, research co-ordinator of MiningWatch Canada, who says: “We’re advising against using the CORE [as it] could actually deepen the harm that they’ve already experienced, because she doesn’t have the powers to actually level the playing field with the company.”

The full article in The Globe and Mail newspaper can be read at Hollow core: In 2018, Ottawa announced a new watchdog to probe alleged abuses by multinationals. It has yet to complete a single investigation. The Globe went to Peruvian oil country to see the effects of missing Canadian oversight.

Frontera Energy will hold its virtual annual shareholders meeting on Thursday May 18 this year.

We continue to follow the situation for the Colombian social leaders accompanied by the Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP) and the Social Corporation for Community Advice and Training (COSPACC).

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