Disgraced former Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, gave the green light for the exploitation of offshore oil drilling by the Peruvian Petroperu firm and the Irish Tullow Oil just before he resigned last week in the face of impending impeachment, local media reported on Monday.
Kuczynski signed five executive orders last Wednesday, the day he announced his resignation, for the five lots located on the northern coast of Peru. Peru's Congress accepted the resignation on Friday and swore in former Vice-President Martin Vizcarra as the new head of state.
Perupetro reached an agreement with Tullow last year —requesting about US$250 of investment per lot— and sent a proposal to the government on Dec. 20.
According to Peruvian law, Tullow Oil and foreign companies must pay a small five percent of taxes on their profits.
Peru is known as one of the most conflict-prone regions of the world when it comes to oil and mining exploitation, and one of the most dangerous country for land activists according to the rights organization Global Witness.
One year ago, the country's ombudsman found in a report that indigenous and campesino communities were currently engaged in fighting 156 mining giants, which they claim are threatening their natural resources and land.
In total, 102 protests with a "social-environmental" focus were recorded across the country then, but only 81 projects are currently being negotiated.
Mining projects are contested because they are seen as threatening natural resources and the future health and survival of rural communities living close by.
The mining industry remains one of the primary sources of foreign trade in Peru, although investment in the sector has fallen with the drop in international commodity prices. Peru is the second-largest exporter of copper in the world, with 70 percent of exports in raw form and 30 percent as purified metal.