Allegations

On 11 March 2020, four indigenous federations FEDIQUEP, FECONACOR, OPIKAFPE and ACODECOSPAT from the Loreto region of the Peruvian Amazon filed a specific instance at the Dutch National Contact Point. They were supported by co-complainants Peru EQUIDAD, SOMO, Oxfam in Peru, and Oxfam Novib. The specific instance contends that Netherlands-based oil company Pluspetrol Resources Corporation B.V. (Pluspetrol) failed to conduct adequate due diligence to prevent adverse environmental and human rights impacts from its oil extraction operations in the Amazon rainforest and to remediate adverse impacts it caused and contributed to.

Pluspetrol purchased oil extraction operations, rights and liabilities in Peru’s Lot 1AB from another private company in 2000 and subsequently operated until 2015 using a range of harmful practices, including failing to replace corroded and leaking pipelines, dumping production waters (waste waters), allowing and failing adequately to clean up oil spills, and burning oil inappropriately. Complainants and the Peruvian government now hold Pluspetrol responsible for remediating approximately 2,000 contaminated sites, the vast majority of which Pluspetrol has refused to remediate. The contamination caused and contributed to by Pluspetrol is also likely linked to serious health impacts in the indigenous communities, including high cadmium and lead levels in blood. Complainants allege that Pluspetrol‘s actions have breached OECD Guidelines provisions on due diligence and remediation (Chapters II and IV) and community members’ rights to food, water, land, and self-determination. The specific instance also contends that Pluspetrol has breached the OECD Guidelines provisions on taxation (Chapter XI) and has failed to disclose material information relevant to its operations, in breach of OECD Guidelines provisions on disclosure (Chapter III).

The complainants have attempted resolution with Peruvian administrative and judicial authorities to no avail. They now hope that involvement of the Dutch NCP will prompt Pluspetrol to commit to remediating the contaminated sites and improving its human rights, due diligence, and tax governance practices.

Relevant OECD Guidelines

Outcome

On the 20th of April 2021, the Dutch NCP officially accepted the case against Pluspetrol for further examination, and offered its good offices to the parties,  in accordance with the Dutch NCP Specific Instance Procedure. The NCP asked both parties whether they were willing to engage in a mediation process, with the aim of agreeing how the issues can be successfully addressed. The notifying parties have accepted NCP’s good offices, the enterprise has rejected them. The NCP’s initial statement does not clarify the reason for Pluspetrol’s rejection of mediation.

This case is particularly interesting because it is the first time that an NCP has accepted a complaint against a mailbox company, and it is one of the first ones to deal with taxation issues. Pluspetrol’s headquarters are officially located in the Netherlands, even though there are very few people working there and it seems like this is a structure used for sending money to the Bahama’s. The official location of the headquarters allowed the complainants to file a complaint at the Dutch NCP.

 

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