May 21, 2019 / 2:54 AM / a year ago

Villagers seize oil storage tanks in Peruvian Amazon -Petroperu

LIMA, May 20 (Reuters) - Villagers in the Peruvian Amazon have seized control of oil storage tanks operated by state-owned Petroperu and halted crude deliveries to its refinery in the city of Iquitos, the company said on Monday.

About 90 members of the Saramurillo community in the Loreto region took control of oil tanks at the company’s Station 1 facility on May 15, the company said.

Petroperu did not say why the villagers had seized the installation. Representatives of the community were not available for comment.

The Saramurillo community - home to members of the Kukama tribe - has pressed the Peruvian government to clean up past oil spills and deliver health care and education services to residents, according to media reports.

Petroperu said it may suspend routine maintenance along part of its pipeline that transports crude to the Pacific coast from privately-operated oil fields in the Amazon, including Frontera Energy’s Block 192.

The pipeline was still operating, the company said.

Saramurillo is one of several native villages affected by more than a dozen oil spills from Petroperu’s pipeline in recent years.

Petroperu has said many of the spills were intentional ruptures by people seeking government attention and environmental clean-up work in the region.

Peru, a relatively small oil producer, is rife with conflicts over water, land rights and pollution. Protests in far-flung provinces have derailed billions in mining investments and left dozens dead in clashes with police in past years. (Reporting By Mitra Taj; editing by Darren Schuettler)

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