Petroperu Warns of Possible Fires at Pumping Station Occupied by Protesters

LIMA (Reuters) — Peru's state-run energy company Petroperu warned on Monday that protesters who seized a pumping station of an oil pipeline a month ago risked causing fires and explosions at the facility, located in an Amazon jungle region of the country.

Petroperu issued a statement saying that some 150 people remain at Station 5 of the pipeline, which was taken over by demonstrators at the start of October, amid demands for economic and social assistance from the government and the company.

"Inside the facilities, they are preparing their food without considering the serious risk that this presents. Only a spark could start a fire. In addition, any ignition source, such as campfires or even the use of cell phones, could trigger fires and explosions," Petroperu said in a statement.

Not being in control of the station would make it impossible for the company to respond to emergencies at the site, it said.

At the station, in the Loreto region of northern Peru, all company workers have been evacuated and its operations shut down, it said. The pipeline transports crude from the northern jungle of Peru to a refinery on the Pacific coast.

Reuters could not immediately reach the protesters for comment. Peru's new leftist President Pedro Castillo has pledged to redistribute mineral wealth in the Andean nation and promised to give historically marginalized indigenous groups a louder voice in economic development. 

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