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Environmental remediation of the North Peruvian Pipeline – Frequently Asked Questions

Understand the main causes behind the spills reported in the North Peruvian Pipeline, as well as the real magnitude and complexity of the remediation processes carried out in response to them, is an often complicated task, considering the different versions and stands generated around these events.

For that reason, we present the answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the events that took place in the last years in the North Peruvian Pipeline.

Is it true that the North Peruvian Pipeline (NPP) has had multiple spills in its 40 years of operation?

In the 40 years of existence of the NPP there have been 108 incidents reported, out of which 68 were caused by third parties, 29 had their source in geological faults and 11 had their source in technical aspects.

Between the years 2016 and 2018 there were 22 incidents: 16 caused by third parties, 4 by geological faults, 2 by technical aspects.

What is the status of the clean up and remediation processes in the North Peruvian Pipeline (NPP)? How many and which ones are the remediated contingencies and how many remain?

The following graph shows the location and causes of the contingencies reported between the years 2016 and 2018, while the chart specifies the status of the clean-up and remediation works carried out in said areas.

Location and causes of the contingencies reported in the 2016-2018 period

Status of the Remediation Works

Date of event Location Status Progress as of 11/9/2018 (%)
25/01/2016 km 440+781 Tramo II Concluded 100
03/02/2016 km 206+035 ORN In progress 74
07/03/2016 km 810+962 Tramo II Concluded 100
24/06/2016 km 213+992 Tramo I Concluded 100
10/08/2016 km 364+900 Tramo II Concluded 100
21/08/2016 km 54+200 Tramo I Concluded 100
21/08/2016 km 55+500 Tramo I Concluded 100
22/10/2016 km 53+310 Tramo I Concluded 100
25/09/2016 km 67+375 Tramo I Concluded 100
14/10/2016 km 82+460 Tramo I Concluded 100
02/11/2016 km 103+441 Tramo I Concluded 100
12/11/2016 km 15+300 Tramo I Concluded 100
15/11/2016 km 24+880 Tramo I Concluded 100
23/05/2017 km 569+825 Tramo II Concluded 100
18/06/2017 km 810+978 Tramo II Concluded 100
11/07/2017 km 58+070 Tramo I Concluded 100
15/09/2017 km 51+570 / 51+767 Tramo I Concluded 100
25/10/2017 km 24+367 Tramo I Concluded 100
07/11/2017 km 221+046 ORN In progress 78
27/02/2018 km 20+204 Tramo I In progress 43
11/03/2018 km 87+887 Tramo I In progress 43
25/05/2018 km 12+200 ORN Concluded 100
Why is it that, to date, the environmental remediation works have not been concluded in the contingencies with works under way or pending?

Several of the areas were the spills took place are located in the amazon forest, where the terrain hinders the access and it involves a series of logistic, technical and socio-environmental difficulties that many times end up restricting the normal development of the cleanup and remediation works.

In fact, during the rainy months, we are forced to temporarily paralyze the cleanup and remediation works until the weather conditions may guarantee the effectiveness of the interventions.

Which companies are in charge of the environmental remediation works?

In the framework of the best practices of the industry and its business management policies, PETROPERÚ hires specialist companies, with experience, renown and international backing.

We currently have the support of two important companies with ample international experience in environmental remediation work: Lamor Perú S.A.C. (LAMOR Corporation Ab) and Kanay S.A.C. (Grupo Séché Environment).

Why does PETROPERÚ turn to hiring specialized companies and doesn´t carry out the environmental remediation works directly?

At PETROPERÚ we have enough professionals and teams to respond in a timely manner to the different aspect, both routine and extraordinary, that make up the in the environmental management of a hydrocarbons company. However, this personnel is simultaneously in charge of the different recurring and daily environmental operations and as well as the administration tasks that, in a whole, allow for the compliance to the ever more complex environmental regulation framework of the hydrocarbons sector.

As a result, hiring specialized companies in environmental remediation, under the direct supervision of the hydrocarbons operator, results, from a technical perspective to be a valid alternative to obtain the best results. They allow the hydrocarbon companies to cover, both in quantity and quality, the demanding requirements of experts and teams needed for the appropriate remediation of spills.

What is the protocol executed when there is a spill in the forest? Does it very depending on the area?

As soon as a possible spill is detected, we activate our contingency plan, which establishes the procedures and guidelines to handle this type of situations based on an operational and administrative focus. These are standardized and may apply to any scenario.

Additionally, we establish specific response plans according to the main characteristics of the event and the conditions of the surrounding area where it occurred.

The response stages to a contingency for a spill are:

  • Existence of an abnormal operational condition detected by the SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) system.
  • Pumping stops.
  • Communication of the emergency.
  • Location of the contingency.
  • Verification of the spill.
  • Mobilization and evaluation of the situation.
  • Control actions.
  • Initiation of containment.
  • Repair the pipe.
  • Confinement and recovery of the crude.
  • Transfer the crude to a designated temporary storage.
  • Clean up and restoration.
  • Inspection and evaluation of impacts.
  • Monitoring and follow-up.
What is a flotation channel? Will these continue to be the containment measurement in case of accidents or will they be replaced? How will the containment technology be improved?

The flotation channel of Section I of the North Peruvian Pipeline (NPP) is an artificial facility built by PETROPERÚ to house the pipeline and work as a containment barrier to confine the crude in case of a spill. Also, it has safety caps that prevent its movement into other bodies of water. It was built on swampy terrains and has a length of 275 km, which represents 90% of the length of Section I (306 km).

In a contingency, this channel has shown to meet its containment purpose, as it has prevented the spills from reaching important bodies of water. Therefore, it is not necessary to replace them. Similarly, they work as an additional mechanism to mitigate the risk of the hydrocarbon transportation management.

With regards to the operational improvements to be implemented, in accordance to the preventive maintenance plan we have been working to reduce the risk of any breakage because of the thickness loss in the pipe. Additionally, we have reinforced the sectors that presented relevant anomalies and continue to reinforce other sectors that showed less important anomalies. In parallel, we’re collaborating with the Public Ministry to identify and punish those responsible for the intentional cuts that affected the NPP in the 2016-2017.

Is PETROPERÚ committing an infraction by having the pipe of the North Peruvian Pipeline in a flotation channel?

The laying of the pipes of the North Peruvian Pipeline (NPP) took place according to the standing international standards at the time of its construction, which took into account both, the geography and the topography of the location. Because of that, in some specific areas it was required for the pipe not to be built underground, but rather in a flotation channel that allows the containment of the hydrocarbons in case of a breakage or failure.

The flotation channel was designed and built for laying approximately 275 km of pipe up a total of 306 km of Section I of the NPP. It was conceived to isolate the bed of the NPP of the swampy areas and that sensitive river hydraulic network of the Peruvian Amazon. This makes it so that in the case of any environmental emergencies such as an oil spill, it won’t spread to either near ravines and/or rivers.

Finally, there is currently no national or international regulation that prohibits the usage of a flotation channel for the laying of pipes and as a spill containment system.

In average, how much does it cost to clean up an oil spill?

Each spill has to be evaluated independently taking to account the characteristics of the event. In order to determine the cost and the risk of each operation, there must be an evaluation of several factors such as the time that the hydrocarbon remains in contact with the soil before it is contained and recovered; an analysis of the type of affected soil; the presence or absence of water bodies; that type(s) of hydrocarbon(s) spilled; the availability of resources and the logistics conditions to and from the worksites; the quality, quantity and availability of the necessary operational personnel; the operative tasks needed to develop the processes of evacuation, temporary storage, transportation and final disposal of the residue, among others.

In the case of spills that took place in the Peruvian forest, it is evident that the absence of logistic means to easily access the impacted areas made the execution of the task more difficult and, as a consequence, the operation involved a higher cost. Also, the environmental sensibility of the affected areas and the local environmental regulation in matters of environmental quality for the water and the soil set a significant difference to other scenarios, countries and remediation activities.

How are the effects caused by the spills being evaluated?

For each of the spills that has taken place, we are developing ad hoc evaluation processes that include both the physical–chemical and biological characterization of the areas of influence of the events and antisocial economical characterization of the local communities and their areas of use of natural resources. The base with the objective of identifying and evaluating the potential impact on the relevant components of the surroundings.

The main objective of the evaluations conducted into the systematic environmental monitoring process is to monitor and follow up the evolution of the rehabilitation of the soils, the surface waters in the water sediments, as well as the floor and founder of the remediated areas, even after the end of the clean up and remediation activities.

Have the spills caused damage to the soil, the water, the flora and fauna?

Evaluations done so far, revealed that the impact caused by the spills in the North Peruvian Pipeline shows characteristics of a temporary duration (time of permanence of the effect until its disappearance by action of natural means or through corrective measures), as well as reversibility (possibility of returning to the initial natural state by natural means, once the action stops acting on the medium) and of short and medium-term recovery (possibility that the fact that it returns to the previous condition after applying corrective or remediation measures).

Have the spills damage the health of people?

As a part of the environmental and social evaluations of the areas affected by the contingencies, we have identified the migration routes of the oil or its components to the surroundings and the human body. Also, we have carried out environmental monitoring processes aimed at the follow-up and evolution of the rehabilitation of the soils, surface waters and water sediments, as well as the flora and fauna of the remediated areas.

The results obtained support the effectiveness of the remediated works carried out in the contingencies that took place in the North Peruvian Pipeline. In most of the cases, the spills were contained and confined to the clean up areas. Similarly, the declarations of emergency after several of these events helped limit any use of resources of the affected areas during the duration of the remediation process, thus restricting the exposure to human recipients.

For these reasons, it is impossible to verify the relationship between the presence of total hydrocarbons of oil in the soil and its effects in the health of the population.

Is it true that fish in the areas where the spills took place are contaminated?

The National Fishing Health Body (Sanipes), through official reports referred to some contingencies that have occurred in the North Peruvian Pipeline, and has concluded that there is no link between the oil spills and the abnormal concentration of heavy metals found in the tissues of the fish sampled in the areas neighboring the sectors where the spills took place. In fact, the crude spilled does not contain any of the heavy metals found in the fish.

The primary components of the pollution of the waters in the Amazon ecosystems have their origin in economic and rural-domestic activities of different natures which have taken place from a long time ago in different locations of the forests of Peru. However, at PETROPERÚ we maintain a continuous monitoring program in the areas where the spills happened, in order to supervise the evolution and recovery of the environments intervened.

How is it possible to guarantee the recovery, over time, of the remediated environments?

Ecosystems, especially the ones in the Amazon, vary among them, and thus, have similarly different natural recovery rates, which have to be insulated according to their peculiarities.

For that reason, we have set in motion a systemic environmental monitoring process aimed at the follow-up and evolution of the rehabilitation of the soils, the surface waters and the water sediments, as well as the flora and fauna of the remediated areas. The conclusions of this process would allow the definition of whether or not it is necessary to apply rehabilitation actions based on the progress of the observed environmental recovery.

How is the quality of the water and soil in the affected regions being guaranteed? How is the health of the people who live in these locations being guaranteed?

Upon an emergency (contingency), monitoring of the primary environmental components involved, among other activities , is scheduled: water, soils, sediments, hydro biological resources, flora, etc. This happens at the beginning, intermediate stage and at the end of the remediation.

Monitoring begins in the so-called potential interest areas related with the area of influence of the contingency. Thus, monitoring begins to look at the area where the crude flowed and follows its trajectory. If this includes the river, the pertinent monitoring is carried out to verify that the traces of hydrocarbons that could have arrived to it hold concentrations below the limits set by the Peruvian regulations (Environmental Water Quality Standard).

After a spill, it is the duty of the Ministry of Health (Minsa) to define if the water sources for human consumption have been affected or not. In all the contingencies of the NPP that took place between the years 2014 and 2017, it was not determined that the human consumption water sources had been impacted. Similarly, the National Fishing Health Body (Sanipes) carried out the corresponding analysis and concluded that there is no relationship between the presence of heavy metals in the fish of the Peruvian Amazon and the recent spills.

In any case, preventively, and in coordination with Minsa, we often carry out medical campaigns in the pounds neighboring the contingencies, in order to verify the health status of the population and rule out that there might be cases of damage to their health due to exposure to hydrocarbons. The result of these numerous health services revealed that the ailments detected in the locations of the contingencies are generally due to endemic intestinal and respiratory diseases, not related to the oil extraction activities or the spills.