* Brazil's OAS seeking financing for $4 bln Inambari dam
* NGOs oppose not-yet-ratified Peru-Brazil energy accord
By Caroline Stauffer
Dec 2 Peruvian NGOs and indigenous groups said
on Friday they would continue fighting proposed dams in the
Amazon despite growing signs the projects will be delayed or
perhaps never built.
The former presidents of Peru and Brazil signed a 50-year
bilateral energy agreement in June of 2010 requiring Peru to
produce up to 72,00 megawatts of hydropower, much of it to be
exported to neighboring economic giant Brazil.
That accord still needs to be approved by Peru's Congress
and some energy experts have said the tentative pact includes
projects that make little economic sense.
Civil society groups oppose the agreement because
generating that amount of power would require allowing
Brazilian companies to dam rivers in Peru's Amazon jungle,
displacing indigenous groups and other people.
Peruvian Prime Minister Salomon Lerner has made it clear
that hydroelectric plants would bring affordable energy to
Peruvians in rural areas who lack electricity.
"Today we want to start a big hydroelectric project in the
VRAE that will give between 4,000 and 6,000 workers jobs," he
said, referring to new plans for a dam in the country's
underdeveloped, coca growing Apurimac-Ene River Valley.
He didn't provide details on the project in the VRAE, which
drains into the Amazon basin, or say if the new dam was part of
the proposed energy accord.
Peru's mines and energy ministry cleared five projects in
the accord with total capacity of 6,673 megawatts for companies
to do feasibility studies on. But four projects have since
languished as companies let their temporary concessions expire
or wait to push ahead with their plans.
"Even if four concessions have been declared null or have
lapsed, that doesn't mean there aren't plans for other dams,"
said Vanesa Cueto, director of sustainable energy at Peruvian
At least one dam shows no signs of being built. Brazil's
Odebrecht submitted a letter to Peru's Ministry of Energy of
Mines on Oct. 25, saying it had decided not to continue with
the Tambo 40 project, one of the five proposed dams, "out of
respect for local populations."
Still, Cueto says Brazil and its companies will remain
interested over the long term.
"There's still plenty of interest in building hydropower
projects in Peru from Brazilian companies," she said.
Brazil, Latin America's largest country, faces frequent
blackouts and gets 20 percent of its electricity from the
massive 14,000 MW Itaipu dam on its border with Paraguay.
It is looking for new providers to feed its giant economy
after complaints lodged by Paraguay forced it to triple the
price it pays for power from Itaipu.
Peruvian environmental and indigenous groups are most
concerned about the $4 billion Inambari dam, which is one of
the biggest of the five dams to be built and could still go
A consortium controlled by Brazilian builder OAS has sought
funding from Brazilian state-development bank BNDES to advance
the 2,000 megawatt project, according to a Brazilian press
More than 3,000 people would be directly affected by rising
water levels from the dam, while some 4,000 would face
deforestation, loss of crops and other secondary affects, said
Jose Serra, Director of ProNaturaleza, another Peruvian NGO.
The energy accord could put Peru's leftist President
Ollanta Humala, who took office in July, in a tight spot.
He was strongly backed by the rural poor, pledging to stand
up to big multinational companies and ensure Peru's own
economy, which grew 8.8 percent last year, can meet its own
ballooning energy demands. He also calls Brazil a strong ally.
Despite living in one of the world's fastest-growing
economies, one third of Peruvians have not benefited from the
economic boom and live in poverty.
(Additional reporting by Teresa Cespedes; Editing by