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By José Carlos Díaz Zanelli
The truth is that the accusations of commission charges to benefit from certain concessions and diversion of public funds to finance political campaigns, all around Petrobras, would constitute one of the enigmatic cases of corruption around oil companies in the region. However, one question remains: does corruption concern only state-owned companies?
For now, in Brazil, together with former Petrobras officials, several executives of private construction companies linked to the state company have already fallen. It is also worth doing a review of the most questioned cases of oil companies in Peru.
When talking about cases of corruption in relation to oil companies in our country, the first one that stands out is the famous Petroaudios Case.
That situation, which was uncovered in 2008, involved the distribution of a series of oil and gas lots in areas such as Pisco, Nazca and Madre de Dios, in exchange for a bunch of bribes that went to the former Minister of Fisheries, Rómulo León; the official of Perupetro, Alberto Químper and the legal representative of the Norwegian oil company in Peru, Discover Petroleum, Ernesto Arias Schreiber. The then president of Petroperú, César Gutiérrez, was also involved.
The political scandal, at that time, was huge. To the point that Alan García's government was forced to renew a large part of its Cabinet of Ministers.
It should be noted in this scenario that Petroperú and Petrobras have not functioned in recent years as two separate state oil companies. It should be remembered that in 2012 both companies announced the signing of an energy agreement, something that ultimately did not materialize.
And not only did it not materialize, but in November 2014 Petrobras ended up closing its exit from Peru by selling all of its assets to Chinese capital. By then the corruption scandal in Brazil had already broken out.
Today the lots in which Petrobras once had a stake are in the hands of the Chinese state company, CNPC. Despite the fact that Petroperú at a certain point showed interest in acquiring part of these assets, especially those that were shared with Repsol. In the end, the private oil union exerted pressure and prevented the state-owned union from acquiring greater prominence, a situation similar to that which has recently been experienced with Lots III and IV of Talara.
The private ones
Not all acts of corruption and irregularities related to oil activities come from state entities. In fact, in Peru, one of the most questioned companies is precisely the private Pluspetrol, which operates in different lots nationwide.
This company is currently litigating with the Peruvian State in order not to have to pay an amount of more than S /. 39 million for fines obtained for environmental infractions. For this reason, it is at the head of the oil companies with the highest debts for exceeding its pollution limits.
Today, Pluspetrol, which operates in South America and Africa with Argentine capital, has 40% of the national oil production and 95% of the gas company in its hands. Nothing more and nothing less, in spite of their questioned environmental practices and their precarious relations with the jungle communities that have been affected by their exploitation works.