February 27, 2009 / 5:28 PM / 10 years ago

Peru top court bans some oil exploration work

LIMA, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Peru’s top court has ruled that foreign petroleum companies must halt exploration work at a site in the Andes Mountains where environmentalists have complained about possible water pollution.

The oil concession in question is located in lot 103 in northern Peru, in San Martin province. The companies ordered to halt exploration work are Brazil’s Petrobras (PBR.N), Spain’s Repsol YPF (REP.MC) and Canada’s Talisman Energy TLM.TO.

The complaint alleges that drilling work in the area violates a law protecting a sensitive environmental area that overlaps with the lot, and that drilling would contaminate important watersheds relied on by local communities.

“The final phase of exploration work and the production phase are forbidden,” the Constitutional Tribunal said in a ruling that affects work within the protected environmental area, but not the whole lot.

The court said work could eventually go forward, but only if the companies provide detailed plans showing how they will minimize environmental harm.

Repsol said it was unaware of the ruling, and Petrobras and Talisman could not be reached for comment.

Peru is rich in natural resources, and the government has frustrated environmental and indigenous groups by auctioning off mining and energy concessions that blanket most of the country.

To see the ruling, click on:

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