Third Amazon oil spill leads to Petroperu CEO ouster, $3.5 million fine

LIMA – A third oil spill in the environmentally sensitive Amazon region of Peru has cost the job of the head of Petroperu, German Velasquez. In addition, the local environmental regular, OEFA, has fined the state oil company $3.5 million.

The latest leak, detected on July 1, amounted to 600 bbl in the Amazonian region of Loreto. The pipeline ruptured twice earlier this year leaked about 3,000 bbl, coating over 16,000 sq m of ground and distressing the local tribe. Altogether, there have been 23 crude spills from the 40-year-old pipeline since 2011.

According to the Energy and Mines Minister Rosa Maria Ortiz, the government had directed Petroperu to shut down the pipeline after the two spills earlier in 2016. OEFA had fined the oil company $3 million in 2014.

The 687-mile-long Northern Peruvian pipeline transports crude to Petroperu’s Talara refinery. Before operations were suspended in February, Petroperu's pipeline routinely transported about 5,500 bopd from Pacific Exploration & Production’s production from Block 192.

Petroperu is investigating the cause of the spill, and has begun cleanup efforts to prevent spilled oil from being absorbed into the ground.