The Keystone XL pipeline isn't the only controversial oil project that consultancy Cardno ENTRIX, caught up in a conflict-of-interest scandal over the pipeline's potential environmental impact, has been involved with.
Last year, I was having lunch in Buena Vista on the River Arabela, one of the remotest villages in the Peruvian Amazon. Upriver from there, various companies are exploring for or hoping to extract oil, and my host, a mestizo man who had only recently moved to the village, was listing some of those involved: Perenco, Repsol-YPF, ConocoPhillips and ... ENTRIX.
ENTRIX, which was acquired in June 2010 by Cardno Limited, has been working for Repsol-YPF in a huge region in northern Peru known by the country's oil industry as "Lot 39." According to Peru's state news agency, Repsol-YPF's Chairman Antonio Brufau recently met the Peruvian President Ollanta Humala to discuss the company's operations in that region.
ENTRIX's involvement in "Lot 39" has been confirmed by company representatives in its Peru office. One of those representatives is Roberto Leguia, who previously spent years as a Repsol-YPF employee.
'ENTRIX has been working for Repsol in Lot 39 since 2009," Leguia informed me, "providing comprehensive logistical services regarding community relations."
But this region, one of the most biodiverse in South America, is home to indigenous people who have no regular contact with the "outside world." These people, the "pueblos autonomos" or "no contactados," as they're sometimes called, could be decimated by any form of contact with outsiders.
Is Cardno ENTRIX aware of that?
Or that one of Peru's leading indigenous organizations, AIDESEP, has appealed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to pressure Peru's government to ban companies from working in the area?
Or that more than 50 NGOs, including Survival International, Amazon Watch and Save America's Forests, have written to the companies urging them to withdraw?
Or that ConocoPhillips, Repsol-YPF's partner in "Lot 39." announced at its annual general meeting in May last year that it would withdraw, a move hailed by Amazon Watch as "a decision for isolated people's rights"?
The Director of Cardno ENTRIX's Latin American operations, Edgar Uribe, did not respond to any of these questions.