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    Camisea Revisited

    By Keith R | July 5, 2007

    Topics: Energy & the Environment, Environmental Protection, Extractive Sectors, Sanitation | No Comments »

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    On 04 June a public hearing at Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) headquarters in Washington, D.C. was held on the recently released audit reports of the controversial Camisea project in Peru.

    The official IDB summary of the meeting (in Spanish only) is a bit difficult to find on the Bank’s special website on Camisea (unless of course you get help from The Temas Blog!). You have to go to the Spanish (not English) version, follow to Sociedad Civil, then Reuniones Públicas. Curious that they don’t have a more intuitive flow, or post a link on the opening, since it is the most recent update of the Camisea site.

    The brief summary posted provides minimal information– in fact, five of its paragraphs instead summarizes the major conclusions of the external environmental and social audit of the project and the recent pipeline integrity review. They promise a fuller version of the summary later, so I waited before posting. But after waiting a month, I decided enough was enough.

    I also must wonder aloud why, after a month, no English version of the short summary is yet offered by the IDB. Very curious.

    There were presentations made at the public hearing, and you can view and download them, if you jump through some hoops first. Rather than list them directly on the website (and thus have them transparent to search engines), IDB only lists them in an Adobe PDF you must first download.

    It is very curious to me that, even though a large contingent of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), only one of their presentations is offered and nothing is said of their criticisms. Almost all the presentations offered are by Bank officials and the auditors, and of course strongly favorable to Camisea. Why, for example, no mention of the pipeline critique offered by engineer Bill Powers of E-tech International, stressing that the Exponent audit has not allayed his concerns about the pipeline?

    DAR's matrix of the Camisea pledgesMaybe there are logical explanations for all of this, but taken together, they give at least the appearance (and smell) of a lack of transparency and perhaps “stacking the deck” so that only the most favorable side of the hearing is presented.

    Is Camisea Meeting Its Commitments?

    Let’s look at the one slightly critical presentation offered on the IDB website, made by Alberto Barandiarán, President of the Peruvian group Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (DAR). Barandiarán looked at the 21 environmental and social commitments the project was supposed to fulfill. He noted that it was difficult assessing their fulfillment, because the of all the websites devoted to the project, only the Health Ministry’s Environmental Health Directorate (DIGESA) provides relevant information. Most agencies and parties linked to the project were slow to respond to inquiries and gave incomplete answers.

    He prepared a matrix of the 21 commitments (click on image to enlarge), and rated them as fulfill, progress toward meeting, or not met. His conclusion: none yet fulfilled, 11 in process, and 10 unmet. Among the 10 he reckons have not been fulfilled (none of them insignificant, to my mind):

    I note that several of these involve transparency. It seems that for all the show of transparency and consultation regarding Camisea — multiple websites, public consultations with civil society, reports and third-party audit, all of which are commendable as far as they go — the Project and its backers, including the IDB and Government of Peru, still have much to do before they meet their commitments. The question in many minds right now is whether the Bank will wait to see all 21 commitments actually fulfilled before offering funding to Camisea II.

    — Keith R

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