CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Petroperu head ousted over oil spills in Amazon- minister

jueves 30 de junio de 2016 21:19 GYT

(Corrects to 2011 from 1997 in 6th paragraph)

LIMA, June 30 (Reuters) - The head of Petroperu, German Velasquez, was dismissed following the third oil spill in the Amazon this year from the state-owned energy company's four-decades-old pipeline, the government said on Thursday.

Energy and Mines Minister Rosa Maria Ortiz said that Petroperu had been transporting crude through the pipeline without authorization as operations had been shut down after two spills earlier this year.

"That's a serious offense and that's what must be sanctioned," Ortiz said on local broadcaster RPP. She added that Velasquez formally resigned on Tuesday.

Velasquez declined to comment.

Petroperu denied earlier this week that it had been operating the pipeline but declined requests for additional comment.

There have been 23 oil spills from the pipeline since 2011, according to the ombudsman's office.

The latest leak, detected on Friday, spilled some 600 barrels of crude in the Amazonian region of Loreto, according to environmental regulator OEFA.

Two ruptures earlier this year leaked some 3,000 barrels of oil, polluting rivers and prompting an Amazonian tribe to hold Petroperu officials hostage to press for government aid. The officials were released unharmed.

It is unclear if a new Petroperu president will be named before the end of President Ollanta Humala's term on July 28, when President-elect Pedro Pablo Kuczynski takes office. (Reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Sandra Maler)