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Conflict - June 13

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


'We are fighting for our lives and our dignity'

John Vidal, Guardian
Across the globe, as mining and oil firms race for dwindling resources, indigenous peoples are battling to defend their lands – often paying the ultimate price
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It has been called the world's second "oil war", but the only similarity between Iraq and events in the jungles of northern Peru over the last few weeks has been the mismatch of force. On one side have been the police armed with automatic weapons, teargas, helicopter gunships and armoured cars. On the other are several thousand Awajun and Wambis Indians, many of them in war paint and armed with bows and arrows and spears.

In some of the worst violence seen in Peru in 20 years, the Indians this week warned Latin America what could happen if companies are given free access to the Amazonian forests to exploit an estimated 6bn barrels of oil and take as much timber they like. After months of peaceful protests, the police were ordered to use force to remove a road bock near Bagua Grande.

In the fights that followed, at least 50 Indians and nine police officers were killed, with hundreds more wounded or arrested. The indigenous rights group Survival International described it as "Peru's Tiananmen Square".
(13 June 2009)



Heinberg on resource conflicts and the Peru oil standoff
(audio and text)
Evan Solomon, The Current, Radio One, CBC (Canada)
... Part 2: Peru Oil Standoff - Ben Powless

We started this segment with some sound from earlier this week as security forces clashed with the mostly indigenous inhabitants of Peru's northern Amazon region.

Some of the worst violence took place at Devil's Pass, where an estimated 100 people were killed. The protests began in response to the Peruvian government's plan to open up previously protected areas of the Amazon to oil, gas and mineral exploration. Indigenous people say their rights are being trampled on and that the Amazon's fragile ecosystem will be destroyed. The government says that opening up the Amazon to resource extraction will bring in much-needed revenue and boost the local economy.

Ben Powless has been at the centre of the action. He's a native Canadian activist and he was near Bagua in the Peruvian Amazon.

Peru Oil Standoff - UN Ambassador

We made requests for an interview with a representative of the government in Peru, but were unsuccesful.

But Ambassador Gonzalo Gutierrez did agree to speak to us. He is Peru's Permanent Representative at the United Nations. We reached him at his home in New York City.

Peru Oil Standoff - Richard Heinberg

According to Richard Heinberg, there's a good chance we're going to see a lot more conflicts like this one. He is a Senior Fellow-in-Residence at the Post Carbon Institute and the author of Peak Everything and Blackout: Coal, Climate, and the Last Energy Crisis. Richard Heinberg was in Santa Rosa, California.

Listen to Part Two
(12 June 2009)
Links at original. Also posted at Global Public Radio and Post Carbon Institute.




Oil and Indians Don't Mix

Greg Palast, ZNet
There's an easy way to find oil. Go to some remote and gorgeous natural sanctuary, say Alaska or the Amazon, find some Indians, then drill down under them.

If the indigenous folk complain, well, just shoo-them away. Shoo-ing methods include: bulldozers, bullets, crooked politicians and fake land sales.

But be aware. Lately the Natives are shoo-ing back. Last week, indigenous Peruvians seized an oil pumping station, grabbed the nine policemen guarding it and, say reports, executed them. This followed the government's murder of more than a dozen rainforest residents who had protested the seizure of their property for oil drilling.

Again and again I see it in my line of work of investigating fraud. Here are a few pit-stops on the oily trail of tears: ...
(12 June 2009)



Fighting Over Oil And Water (oil shale)
(audio)
Shawn Allee, Environment Report
In the future, keeping your gas tank full could make disputes over water in the American West a lot worse. It's because energy companies hope to develop the oil shale industry. Getting oil from shale requires lots of water, and the richest oil shale deposits happen to be in the dry state of Colorado. Shawn Allee headed there to see why a fight over water and oil could be in the works:

About Oil Shale
Western Resource Advocates
Shell's Oil Shale Research Project
(8 June 2009)



The coming U.S.-Saudi fight over "energy independence"

Greg Priddy, Foreign Policy
Are the United States and Saudi Arabia on the verge of serious tensions? They might be … if the Saudis continue to worry that U.S. energy policy could undermine their economy over the long-term.

Saudi officials are beginning to realize that the Obama administration is serious about gradual diversification away from U.S. dependence on oil and fossil fuels -- a direct threat to Saudi Arabia’s “demand security.” That explains, at least in part, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al Naimi’s uncharacteristically hawkish comments on crude oil prices at the most recent OPEC meeting held late last month -- comments that amounted to a warning shot directed at the U.S. ahead of President Obama’s visit.

Despite serious recent Saudi efforts to diversify its economy away from dependence on crude oil exports, the certainty that large-scale use of hydrocarbon alternatives remains years away, and conservative budgeting that ensures the Saudis are hurt less than most energy exporters by lower prices, the Saudis fear that substantial U.S. investment in ideas like plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles could undermine demand growth in oil, which they had assumed would remain strong, at least in the developing world. The fear is that if they continue investing in oil production capacity, they could end up overshooting demand.

What tools do the Saudis have to show their displeasure? They could delay near-term increases in oil production that will complicate the U.S. path out of recession.
(11 June 2009)

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