Peru has joined Mexico, Nigeria, the Ukraine and a host of other countries, including the United States, confronting vandals who tap into pipeline systems to steal the hydrocarbons inside.
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski intends to declare the country's sole oil pipeline, 1,106 km long, a "strategic asset," providing the military, in addition to the police, with a mandate to protect the pipeline from a spate of recent vandal attacks.
The pipeline transports crude from jungle oil blocks to Petroperu's refinery on the Pacific coast.
Since the start of 2016, some 11,100 barrels of oil have spilled from the pipeline in 14 attacks, and 5,600 barrels spilled because of corrosion or operative failures, data from environmental regulator OEFA showed.
Petroperu suspects the attacks are not arbitrary, but deliberate acts of malice by companies which have worked for Petroperu in the past and who are seeking to increase the amount of work they do to maintain the pipeline. "We're no longer going to hire those kinds of companies, because it creates a sort of perverse incentive," said Alva Hart, Petroperu manager for relations with communities near the pipeline, explaining one way Petroperu hoped to discourage more attacks.
The other way is to employ indigenous residents along the pipeline trajectory to clear paths in order to better maintain the pipeline. Kuczynski will ask Congress to approve the strategic asset designation in "coming days."