Oil contracts at issue in Peru political scandal

Seemingly irregular oil contracts have emerged as a factor in the ongoing political scandal that last week brought down Peru's president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. Following accusations from left-opposition congressmember Manuel Dammert (Nuevo Perú), state agency PeruPetro admitted that hours before leaving office on March 21, Kuczynski had issued a Supreme Decree initiating the process of approving five offshore oil concessions with a private company—but without the involvement of PeruPetro in vetting the contracts, as required by law. Calling the deals "lobista," Dammert is demanding that new President Martín Vizcarra declare the contracts void. The exploration contracts for blocs off the coast of Tmubes region are with Irish company Tullow Oil, They still must be approved by the ministries of Energy & Mines and Economy & Finance. (Gestión, March 29; TeleSur, March 26; Gestión, March 24)

Kuczynski as president had been an aggressive advocate of a greater role for private capital in Peru's oil industry. He had previously worked as an advisor to Hunt Oil, and also served on the board of Argentine-Italian conglomerate Techint. As president, he advocated that Techint, which helped build the South Andean Gasduct tha delivers gas from Hunt Oil's Camisea fields to the coast, be given a contract to operate the troubled North Peru Oilduct as well. (GatoEncerrado, Feb. 14; TeleSur, June 2016)

Dammert had been an advocate for construction of the South Andean Gasduct, but with greater public oversight, in light of the corruption surrounding infrastructure contacts in Peru. (Diario Uno, Jan. 3, 2017) 

Photo: Gestión