Frontera seeks to invoke force majeure due to Peru protests

LIMA (Reuters) - Frontera Energy Corp FEC.TO is seeking to declare force majeure due to protests by Amazonian tribes in Peru that have halted its operations in the country's biggest oil block, Peru's energy regulator Perupetro said Tuesday.

Perupetro said it was evaluating the Canadian company’s request to allow it to legally suspend contractual obligations due to an event outside of its control, after indigenous protesters seized its oil wells in Block 192 last week over a dispute with the government.

Frontera did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Frontera has not produced oil from Block 192 since September 18, when the protests began, according to Perupetro. The oilfield produced some 9,500 barrels per day in August.

Native villagers in Block 192 want the government of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski to promise to seek their input before giving Frontera a new oil contract. Tribal chiefs have said they are not opposed to drilling but want a thorough clean-up of oil pollution on their lands and better access to education and health care.

Perupetro said Frontera’s current, 2-year contract for Block 192 is set to expire in February 2019 instead of this year because the company was unable to use a state-owned pipeline for 18 months as initially expected.

The pipeline, which transports crude from Amazonian oilfields to the Pacific coast, was shut down in early 2016 after spilling oil in the Amazon and only became fully operational earlier on Tuesday.

Reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Richard Chang