The Agua Caliente Oilfield and the Boiling River of the Peruvian Amazon

The presence of petroleum in Peru has been known for several centuries from the numerous oil seeps and outcrops of heavy black asphalt located in the Talara coastal region. Ages before the Spanish presence, the natives prepared the pitch for mummifying their dead, for waterproofing boats and as fuel for light. The earliest Spanish explorers used the pitch from these seeps to caulk their boats and tar their ropes. Finally, in 1869, the La Brea-Pariñas oilfield was discovered by cable-tool drilling, making it one of the first oil production fields in the world.

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According to local tradition, the Boiling River is a place of tremendous spiritual power, where the steam creates a magic atmosphere. Here, Maestro Juan, an Asháninka healer and shaman, plays the flute atop an outcrop of Aqua Caliente sandstone. Photo by Sofía Ruzo of the Boiling River Project.

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