Securing our energy future and increasing oil & gas exploration is taking its toll on the natural South American environment, as a recent report foresees that the western Amazon may soon be covered with oil rigs and pipelines.

Home to the most bio-diverse and intact rainforest left on Earth, the western Amazon could soon be covered with oil rigs and pipelines, according to a new study in a recent edition of open-access journal PLoS ONE.

The new study notes how over 180 oil and gas ‘blocks’ zoned for exploration and development now cover the mega diverse western Amazon, which includes Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and western Brazil. These oil and gas blocks are believed to stretch over 688,000km2.

For over three years, researchers from two US non-profit organisations and scientists from Duke University tracked hydrocarbon activities across the region and generated a comprehensive map of oil and gas activities. The result, it seems, is an alarming assessment of the threats to the biodiversity and indigenous peoples of the region.

“We found that the oil and gas blocks overlap perfectly with the most bio-diverse part of the Amazon for birds, mammals, and amphibians,” indicated study co-author Dr. Clinton Jenkins of Duke University.

“The threat to amphibians is of particular concern because they are already the most threatened group of vertebrates worldwide.”

Brzail had recently been thrown into the energy spotlight with the discovery of two major oil & gas explorations, while from a general perspective the search is on for the energy and fuel resources that will both shape and secure our future.

The study reports that 64 oil and gas blocks cover approximately 72% of the vast Peruvian Amazon (490,000km2), an area much larger than California. Up to 56 of these blocks are thought to have appeared since 2003, when Peru launched a major effort to boost exploration across the Amazon.

The analysis points out that the current environmental assessment process is inadequate due to a lack of independence in the review process and a lack of comprehensive analyses of the long-term, cumulative, and synergistic impacts of multiple oil and gas projects across the wider region.

The role of the international community is also highlighted, as growing global energy demand drives the search for further oil and gas in the Amazon and companies from the US, Canada, Europe, and China carry out most of the development.