In the 1990s, within the framework of Legislative Decree No. 674 (Law on the Promotion of Private Investment in State Enterprises), we assumed contractual commitments for the environmental remediation of our privatized units guaranteed by the Peruvian State. Therefore, in accordance with the legal regulations, the contracts signed and their business management policies, we continue to carry out environmental remediation work in our own operating units and in those privatized, based on environmental diagnostic site studies that we have carried out since 1997. In this sense, we have invested more than 70,240,000 dollars only in environmental remediation of soils and waters of privatized business units, applying modern and cutting-edge environmental remediation engineering technologies in the country.
In compliance with Supreme Decrees No. 011-2017-MINAM and No. DS-012-2017-MINAM, as well as MINEM directorial resolutions, the phase of characterization and preparation of a plan aimed at the remediation of twenty-four facilities is being developed.
Thus, through a specialized consultancy, a service of characterization, assessment of risks to health and the environment and preparation of the plan aimed at the remediation of the prioritized facilities of PETROPERÚ is executed.
Between 2012 and 2022, 78 incidents occurred in the ONP pipeline (78% due to third-party criminal acts, 15% due to geodynamic phenomena and 5% due to corrosion).
As part of the implementation of our contingency plan with operational, social and environmental actions, we hired specialized companies for the execution of the work of containment of spills, and environmental assessment and remediation in the affected areas, which as of 31.05.2012 are mostly completed, with an investment that amounted to approximately 685’900,000 soles. It should be noted that in 2022 the Peruvian Nor pipeline has suffered a series of attacks, the investment for the attention of these events, mostly third party court, is estimated to be approximately MS/ 254,440.2. The work is constantly supervised and monitored by our specialized environmental personnel, with the commitment to ensure the operation in a sustainable way, reducing the possible negative impacts against the environment.
Therefore, below, we present the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the events that occurred in recent years in the North Peruvian Pipeline.
In the 40 years of existence of the ONP, 115 incidents have been recorded, of which 72 were generated by third parties, 30 originated in geodynamic phenomena and 13 originated in technical aspects. It should be noted that between 2016 and 2020 29 incidents occurred: 20 caused by third parties, 5 by geodynamic faults and 4 technical aspects.
Let’s see the status of the cleaning and remediation works of the areas affected by the different contingencies that occurred in the North Peruvian Pipeline during the years 2012 and 2022. Visit the following link:
Several of the areas where spills occurred are located in difficult-to-access Amazon jungle environments. This condition involves a series of logistical, technical and socio-environmental difficulties that often restrict the normal development of cleaning and remediation works.
Thus, for example, during the months of greatest rainfall in the Peruvian jungle, climatic conditions and the increase in the water level interfere in the normal development of cleaning and remediation activities, having to momentarily paralyze the works until the restoration of the favorable conditions that guarantee the effectiveness of the interventions.
Within the framework of industry best practices and its business management policies, PETROPERÚ S.A. hires specialist companies, with experience, and with international reputation and support.
Currently, we have the support of two important companies with extensive international experience in environmental remediation tasks: Lamor Perú S.A.C. (LAMOR Corporation Ab), Kanay S.A.C. (Grupo Séché Environment), Consorcio BTT km 323 and Consorcio Brunner km 237.
At PETROPERÚ S.A. we have a staff of professionals and equipment sufficient for timely attention to the different aspects, both routine and non-routine, that make up the environmental management of a typical Hydrocarbon Company. However, and even when internally these personnel have specific expertise in one or more of the different aspects that make up the broad spectrum of subjects and branches associated with environmental management (including environmental remediation), the aforementioned professionals are simultaneously in charge of various recurring and daily environmental management and administration tasks that together allow compliance with the increasingly complex environmental regulatory framework of the Hydrocarbons Subsector.
It is in this framework that the hiring of companies specializing in environmental remediation, under the direct supervision of the hydrocarbon operator, is, from the technical perspective, a valid alternative for obtaining the best results, since it is through these that the hydrocarbon companies manage to cover, both in quantity and in qualification, the demanding requirements of experts and equipment necessary for the correct attention of spills, events that by their nature and characteristics can exceed the ability of the Company to face, only by its own means, the response to the emergency, even more if we consider the various logistical, technical and socio-environmental difficulties that work in Amazonian ecosystems entails, conditions that, in the particular case of PETROPERÚ S.A., were aggravated by the frequency with which the spills were recorded by acts of third parties in 2016 and 2020, a situation that required simultaneous work on several fronts.
It should be noted that this practice is not exclusive to PETROPERÚ S.A., but is characteristic of all Hydrocarbon Companies, whether they are called “majors” or regional or local companies, and whether they are public or private companies. In almost all cases, the aforementioned companies seek to meet these non-recurring or daily needs by hiring the skills and experiences of a company whose main business revolves around the specialized activity to be carried out, since this can make available its updated, expert experiences, of practical application in the field with real and effective solution of problems and without significant increase in the workload of its client, conditions that the mere direct hiring of professionals do not necessarily guarantee.
Upon detection of a possible spill, the Company’s Contingency Plan is immediately activated, which establishes the procedures and guidelines to handle this type of situation with an operational and administrative approach. These are standard in nature and apply in any scenario. Additionally, specific response plans are formulated according to the main characteristics of the event and the conditions of the environment in which the environmental event occurred.
The response phases to a spill contingency are:
The North Peruvian Pipeline Section I (ONP) flotation channel is an artificial installation built by PETROPERÚ S.A. to house the pipeline and that functions as a containment barrier to confine the crude oil in the event of a spill. It also has safety caps that prevent the exit to other bodies of water. It was built on marshy ground and has a total length of 275 km, which represents 90% of the length of Section I (306 km).
In this regard, in the contingencies presented, this channel has shown that it does fulfill its containment function, since it has prevented the spill from reaching important bodies of water. This corroborates its effectiveness and makes its replacement unnecessary. Likewise, it works as an additional mechanism to mitigate the risks of hydrocarbon transportation management.
Regarding the operational improvements to be implemented, work has been carried out to reduce the risk of breakage due to loss of thickness in the duct, since it has been inspected with intelligent scrapers in their entirety, the sectors that presented significant anomalies have been reinforced and other sectors with the presence of less significant anomalies continue to be reinforced, according to the preventive maintenance plan.
Likewise, we have been collaborating with the Public Ministry to identify and punish those responsible for the intentional cuts that affected the ONP during the years 2016 and 2020.
The laying of the pipeline of the North Peruvian Pipeline (ONP) was carried out in accordance with international standards in force at the time of its construction, taking into account the geography and topography of the site. That is, in certain areas, due to specific geographical conditions, it was required that the pipeline was not underground but inside a flotation channel that allows the hydrocarbon to be contained in the event of a breakage or breakdown.
The flotation channel was designed and built for the laying of approximately 275 km of pipeline out of a total of 306 km of the ONP Section I. Its construction followed the best international practices available, taking into account the complex geography and topography of the environments it crosses.
The design criteria of the flotation channel was conceived with the purpose of isolating the laying bed of the ONP from the swampy areas and the sensitive river hydraulic network of the Peruvian Amazon. In the absence of this artificial channel, the escaped hydrocarbon would spread more easily, and could reach streams and rivers. In this sense, the artificial flotation channel is part of the structure of Section I and of the containment system for environmental emergencies, such as oil spills.
Finally, it is important to mention that at present there is no national or international regulation prohibiting the use of a flotation channel for the placement of pipes and as a spill containment system.
Each spill must be independently evaluated by the characteristics of the event. In this sense, at the time of carrying out the studies corresponding to each scenario, several factors are taken to determine the costs and risk for each operation. Among them are the residence time of the hydrocarbon in contact with the soil before it is contained and recovered; an analysis of the type of soil affected; the presence/absence of water bodies; the type(s) of hydrocarbon(s) spilled; the availability of resources and logistical conditions to and from the work points; the quality, quantity and availability of necessary operational personnel; the operational tasks necessary to develop the processes of evacuation, temporary storage, transport and final disposal of waste, among others.
In the case of the spills that occurred in the Peruvian jungle, it is evident that the degree of accessibility and the lack of logistical means to easily access the impacted areas directly results in greater difficulties in developing the works and, consequently, in higher costs of operation.
Along with the limited logistical access characteristics, the environmental sensitivity properties of the affected areas and local environmental regulation in terms of environmental quality standards for water and soil make a significant difference to other scenarios, countries and remediation operations.
Additionally, in environments such as those analyzed, with the presence of forests, lagoons, swamps and marshes, cleaning tasks must be carried out with the greatest care. For this reason, it is a common practice in the industry to have large contingents of workforce that allow these selective clearing and cleaning processes to be carried out, always seeking to achieve the environmental quality levels established by the Peruvian environmental authority.
The different evaluations carried out to date show that the impacts caused by the spills in the North Peruvian Pipeline have characteristics of temporary duration (time of permanence of the effect until its disappearance by action of natural means or through corrective actions), as well as reversibility (possibility that the affected factor has, to return to its initial natural state by natural means, once the action stops acting on the medium) and recoverability (possibility that the factor returns to the previous conditions by applying corrective or remediation measures) from short to medium term.
As part of the environmental and social assessment of the areas affected by the contingencies, the migration routes of the oil or its components towards the environment and the human body have been identified, as well as environmental monitoring processes have been carried out focused on the monitoring and evolution of the rehabilitation of soils, surface waters and aquatic sediments, as well as of the flora and fauna of the remediated areas.
It should be noted that the regulations and quality standards both internationally and currently (legally) in force in Peru for different media (soils, water, air, etc.) and different uses, recognize that there may be some residual impact (concentrations) of anthropogenic compounds (such as petroleum hydrocarbons) that do not pose a risk to receptors, whether ecological or human.
In this regard, see paragraph 31.1 of article 31 of Law No.28611 (General Law on the Environment) which defines the Environmental Quality Standard (ECA) as the measure that establishes the level of concentration or the degree of physical, chemical and biological elements, substances or parameters, present in the air, water or soil, in its condition as a receiving body, which does not represent a significant risk to the health of people or the environment.
The results of the environmental monitoring processes obtained to date guarantee the effectiveness of the remediation works developed in the contingencies that occurred in the North Peruvian Pipeline.
In this sense, it can be concluded that, at present, there are no migration routes or routes from potential pollutants to sensitive human-type receptors. This is due, among other things, to the fact that, in the vast majority of cases, the spills were contained and confined in the cleaning areas. Likewise, the emergency declarations that were initiated in several of the events helped to limit any use of resources from the affected areas during the duration of the remediation process, thus restricting exposure to human receptors.
For these reasons, it is not possible to verify the relationship between the presence of total petroleum hydrocarbons in the soil component (especially in the case of a highly crude oil) and the impact on the health of the inhabitants.
It should be noted, however, that PETROPERÚ S.A. has launched a systematic process of environmental monitoring focused on monitoring and evolution of the rehabilitation of soils, surface waters and aquatic sediments, as well as the flora and fauna of the remediated areas. The conclusions of the monitoring process will serve to define whether it is necessary to apply rehabilitation actions, based on the progress of the observed environmental recovery.
The National Fisheries Health Agency (SANIPES), through official reports referring to some contingencies that occurred in the North Peruvian Pipeline, has concluded that there is no relationship between the oil spills and the abnormal concentration of heavy metals found in the tissue of the fish sampled in the areas surrounding some of the sectors where the spills occurred. Furthermore, the crude oil spilled does not contain the heavy metals found in fish in its composition.
Likewise, the sampling of fish tissue carried out by both the environmental authority and PETROPERÚ S.A. in the areas affected by the oil spills shows that these do not have an impact due to hydrocarbons, even in those areas with cleaning work still in progress.
The main components of the contamination of the waters of the Amazonian ecosystems do not have their origin in the hydrocarbon industry or in its eventual contingencies, but in economic and rural-domestic activities of different natures, which have been developed for a long time in different places of the forests of Peru. However, PETROPERÚ S.A. maintains a continuous monitoring program in the areas where spills occurred, in order to monitor the evolution and recovery of the environments that were intervened.
Ecosystems, especially Amazonian ecosystems, are diverse and, therefore, have equally different rates of natural recovery, which must be evaluated according to their particularities.
It should be noted, however, that PETROPERÚ has launched a systematic process of environmental monitoring focused on the follow-up and evolution of the rehabilitation of soils, surface waters and aquatic sediments, as well as the flora and fauna of the remediated areas.
The conclusions of the monitoring process will serve to define whether it is necessary to apply rehabilitation actions, based on the progress of the observed environmental recovery.
When an emergency (contingency) is initiated – among other activities – a monitoring of the main environmental components involved, that is, water, soils, sediments, hydrobiological resources, flora, etc. is scheduled, both at the beginning and in its intermediate phase and at the end of the remediation.
These monitoring begin in the so-called areas of potential interest, related to the areas of influence of the contingency. Thus, part of them are carried out in the area where the oil flowed, following its trajectory. If the river is in the path of the spill, the relevant monitoring is also carried out in order to verify that the traces of hydrocarbons that may have arrived are in a concentration within the limits established by Peruvian regulations (Environmental Quality Standard for Water).
Once a spill occurs, it is the function of the Ministry of Health (MINSA) to define whether the sources of water for human consumption have been affected or not. In all cases of ONP contingencies between 2014 and 2020, it has not been determined that the sources of water for human consumption have been impacted. Likewise, the National Fisheries Health Service (SANIPES) has carried out the respective analyses and has concluded that there is no relationship between the presence of certain metals in the fish of the Peruvian Amazon and the recent spills.
In any case, in a preventive manner, from PETROPERÚ S.A. we carry out medical campaigns in the localities close to the contingencies, in coordination with MINSA, in order to verify the health status of the inhabitants, and rule out that there could be cases of health impairment due to exposure to hydrocarbons. The results of these numerous health care services reveal that the ailments detected at the contingency sites are generally due to endemic intestinal and respiratory diseases, unrelated to oil exploitation activities or spills.