Colombia publishes draft rules for fracking pilot projects, human rights defenders continue to seek a prohibition
On February 3, Business News Americas reported, “Colombia has published modified draft rules for fracking pilots as the government seeks to overcome opposition to unconventional oil and gas drilling.”
“The 19-page document outlining proposed guidelines for ‘pilot projects of integral research’ is available for public comment until February 15.”
The draft rules for fracking pilot project can be read in Spanish here.
The article adds, “Colombia’s first fracking pilots are expected to begin in the second half of this year after the country’s highest administrative court – the Council of State – excluded the projects from a moratorium on unconventional drilling.”
“BNamericas understands that the pilots – all located in northern Colombia – will be operated by ExxonMobil (Puerto Wilches, Santander department), Ecopetrol (Barrancabermeja, Santander), ConocoPhillips (San Martín, Cesar) and Drummond (Ranchería, Cesar).”
Canadian companies and fracking in Colombia
This article does not mention Calgary-based Parex Resources Inc. On March 8, 2019, Reuters had reported that “at least five companies are interested in six fracking blocs in Colombia…” In that article, Colombian Mines and Energy Minister Maria Fernanda Suarez names Parex as one of the companies interested in the fracking blocs.
It’s also unclear if Houston, Texas-based ConocoPhillips will partner, as it has in the past, with Bogota-based CNE Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of Calgary-based Canacol Energy Ltd. As Reuters has reported, the two transnationals had previously sought to frack the VMM-3 block in northern Cesar province.
Beyond the pilot projects, Toronto-based Frontera Energy Corporation is a minority owner of a pipeline that runs through the Magdalena Medio region. Reuters has reported that pipeline could “move increased crude output from the center of Colombia to the Caribbean” if fracking is approved beyond the pilot projects.
In his recent report on Colombia, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders expressed concern (in points 29 and 30 on page 9) about Frontera Energy Corp. in relation to the arrest of eight environmental activists in San Luis de Palenque, the company’s “failure” to “fulfil its obligation to compensate communities affected by environmental damage and to repair damaged roads”, as well as “the apparent connection between Frontera Energy, the army’s 16th brigade and the Attorney General’s Support Office in this criminalization and the possible impact of the agreement between Ecopetrol S.A. and the Attorney General’s Office on the situation.”
The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project accompanies the women’s legal collective CCALCP and the human rights organization CREDHOS. PBI-Canada helped host a visit by representatives of those organizations in November 2019. Both CCALCP and CREDHOS highlighted their concerns about the impact of fracking on human rights.
Furthermore, PBI-Colombia also accompanies the Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP) and the Social Corporation for Community Advisory and Training Services (COSPACC), who are following closely the situation with Frontera Energy and the arrest of human rights defenders in San Luis de Palenque.
PBI-Colombia has accompanied CREDHOS since 1994, CSPP since 1998, CCALCP since 2006, and COSPACC since 2009.