* Peru has about 16 TCF of proven natural gas reserves
* Tribes in Peru filed legal challenges last year
(Adds details, background)
LIMA, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Peruvian state energy company Perupetro on Thursday said it estimates Block 76 being explored by U.S.-based Hunt Oil holds potential natural gas reserves of 11 trillion cubic feet (TCF).
Peru has about 16 TCF of proven natural gas reserves at the Camisea field in southern Peru, according to official data, and the South American country has become a top prospect for energy companies.
Tribes in Peru filed legal challenges last year against the government and Hunt Oil to force the company to abandon an exploration project on Block 76, which is located in a virgin corner of the Amazon rainforest. [ID:nN27257707]
The tribes say a government concession granted to Hunt Oil and Spain’s Repsol (REP.MC) to explore for oil in Block 76 is unlawful as it overlaps the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve, protected ancestral lands that could hold billions of dollars in oil and natural gas deposits. (Reporting by Teresa Cespedes; Writing by Emily Schmall and Hilary Burke;editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)