Will a Canadian energy company be involved in a controversial fracking project in Colombia?
On April 24, BN Americas reported, “Colombian oil and gas regulator ANH has published draft contract guidelines for fracking pilots.”
That article highlights, “The proposed pilots – all located in northern Colombia – would be operated by ExxonMobil (Puerto Wilches, Santander department), Ecopetrol (Barrancabermeja, Santander), ConocoPhillips (San Martín, Cesar) and Drummond (Ranchería, Cesar).”
Last month, EFE reported, “[Social leader Javier Vega] fears that the project that the Canadian oil company ConocoPhillips plans in the area will dry up the Doña María swamp [part of the Magdalena River], from which the fishing village has been feeding for more than fifty years and is vital to its traditions.”
While ConocoPhillips is an American-based transnational, it does have an office in Calgary and has partnered with Bogota-based CNE Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of Calgary-based Canacol Energy Ltd., in two proposed fracking projects.
As Petroleum Economist has previously explained, ConocoPhillips had an 80 per cent stake and Canacol Energy had a 20 per cent stake in this joint endeavour.
ConocoPhillips/Canacol in Colombia
In December 2015, Reuters reported, “U.S.-based ConocoPhillips and CNE Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of Canada’s Canacol Energy, have both signed non-traditional exploration agreements with the national hydrocarbons agency [the ANH] following the change, the agency said in a statement.”
That article adds, “Exploration will take place in the VMM-3 block, in the northeastern provinces of Cesar and Santander, and will require at least $85 million in investment.”
By March 2019, Reuters reported, “Colombia has shelved two environmental licensing requests made by oil companies ConocoPhillips and Canacol Energy Ltd for fracking projects in northern Cesar province, [according to] two sources with knowledge of the matter.”
That article also noted, “The companies did not meet minimum conditions for the Piranga project, a source from the licensing authority said, while the Plata project raised possible water protection concerns.”
Notably, that article highlighted, “U.S.-based ConocoPhillips and Canada’s Canacol can request to re-open the licensing process for the projects in the future, the source said, adding the decision is not a definitive no.”
And in November 2019, La Republica reported, “ConocoPhillips Colombia plans to invest up to US $100 million in two pilots at Cesar. …With two projects in Cesar (VMM-2 and VMM-3), the multinational is ready to take the next step.”
Peace Brigades International
The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project accompanies the Luis Carlos Perez Lawyers’ Collective (CCALCP) and the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS).
In November 2019, PBI-Colombia and PBI-Canada co-organized an advocacy tour in Canada with the Bucaramanga-based legal collective CCALCP and the Barrancabermeja-based human rights organization CREDHOS.
Both cities are situated about 130-150 kilometres south of San Martin, the epicentre of the proposed ConocoPhillips fracking project.
Fracking and human rights
The Alliance for a Colombia Free of Fracking has stated that fracking would violate the Colombian constitutional principles that guarantee citizens the right to life, the right to water, and the right to a healthy environment.
BN Americas notes, “The projects are now unlikely to begin until at least 2021 as operators slash capital guidance in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Photo by PBI-Colombia.