Colombian court to hear challenge from Green Party and Indigenous parliamentarians against fracking pilot projects on August 20

Published by Brent Patterson on

(L-R) Katherine Miranda, César Ortiz Zorro, César Pachón.

On July 29, BN Americas reported: “Colombia’s highest administrative tribunal is set to rule next month on whether oil and gas companies can proceed with fracking pilots.”

The article adds: “[The Council of State] will convene a hearing on August 20 to deliberate over a lawsuit that seeks to declare the projects unconstitutional.”

This announcement comes just days after the court accepted a request to hear a joint action from parliamentarians Luvi Katherine Miranda Peña and César Augusto Ortiz Zorro of the Green Party (Alianza Verde) and César Augusto Pachón Achury of the Alternative Indigenous and Social Movement (MAIS).

The lawsuit by the parliamentarians claims that Decree 328, that allows the proposed fracking pilot projects, violates the precautionary principle as well as the right of people to enjoy a health environment and the right to free, prior and informed consent.

The BN Americas article appears to suggest that not only will the Council of State hear the challenge on August 20, it will rule the same day or shortly thereafter.

Fracking contracts to be awarded in September/October

Last month, BN Americas reported: “Colombia is on track to award contracts for fracking pilots this year as the government fast tracks plans for unconventional oil and gas drilling, according to a senior energy official.”

That article quotes Armando Zamora, the head of national hydrocarbons regulator ANH, who said the contracts will be awarded in September or October.

Canadian companies bidding to frack in Colombia

Toronto-based Sintana Energy and its subsidiary Patriot Energy Oil & Gas Inc. are reportedly part of a joint venture with ExxonMobil to frack the VMM-37 bock near Puerto Wilches, Santander. And Calgary-based Canacol Energy Ltd. and its subsidiary CNE Oil and Gas are reportedly partnered with ConocoPhillips to frack the VMM-2 and VMM-3 blocks near Puerto Patiño and San Martin, Cesar.

Last year, along with ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and Ecopetrol, Colombian Mines and Energy Minister Maria Fernanda Suarez noted that Calgary-based Parex Resources was among the companies seeking to frack in Colombia.

And while not reported as a contender for fracking, Toronto-based Frontera Energy is a minority owner in 236,000 barrel per day pipeline that runs from the Magdalena Medio region to Coveñas on the Caribbean coast that is ready to move increased crude output if fracking is approved beyond the pilot projects.

Analyst says fracking in Colombia a hazardous investment

Earlier this month, Matthew Smith, Oilprice.com’s Latin-America correspondent, commented: “If fracking is eventually approved in Colombia, the lack of social license and intense opposition will see the oil companies engaged in unconventional oil operations become targets for protests from community groups and environmentalists.”

Smith concludes: “Shifting regulations, an unclear legal environment, and community disapproval of fracking make unconventional oil operations in Colombia an unappealing and hazardous investment.”

PBI accompaniment

Peace Brigades International in Colombia and Canada continues to support defenders raising concerns with Canadian officials and the broader public about the impacts of Canadian oil and gas activities on communities and social leaders.

Categories: News Updates

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