Three Canadian companies expected to apply in September to advance fracking pilot projects in Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: A protest in Bogota, Colombia on June 7, 2019 in opposition to fracking. Photo by Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters.

On August 27, the Bucaramanga, Colombia-based newspaper Vanguardia reported: “Starting next month, the oil companies interested in advancing the [fracking pilot projects] could initiate the procedures before the government.”

“With the four final resolutions – corresponding to the technical, environmental, social and contractual aspects – a call period will then be opened before the National Hydrocarbons Agency [ANH]. In this process, the oil companies will apply, so that the Government can define who will be in charge of advancing the four research pilots.”

The article adds: “With the entire regulatory framework in force ‘the ball goes to the court of the companies, which have to make the request. That is why the ANH says that it hopes to be able to adjudicate by October’.”

This corresponds with previous media reports.

On June 11, Business News 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 says the contracts will be awarded in September or October.

Three Canadian companies are expected to apply to conduct the fracking pilot projects:

1- Toronto-based Sintana Energy and its subsidiary Patriot Energy Oil & Gas Inc. with Irving, Texas-based ExxonMobil in the VMM-37 bock near Puerto Wilches, Santander.

2- Calgary-based Canacol Energy Ltd. and its subsidiary CNE Oil and Gas in a consortium with Houston, Texas-based ConocoPhillips in the VMM-2 and VMM-3 blocks near Puerto Patiño and San Martin, Cesar.

3- Calgary-based Parex Resources in an unspecified location.

On July 30, Sonia Lopez, a lawyer with the Joel Sierra Foundation for Human Rights, commented on a Zoom call with Canadian activists: “We need to build a common front to resist fracking because we know there will be social mobilizations against those pilot projects and that those communities are going to be repressed.”

Concurrently, the Council of State, Colombia’s top administrative court, announced last month that it will consider a lawsuit that claims that Decree 328, which allows the proposed fracking pilot projects, violates the precautionary principle and other fundamental human rights including the right to free, prior and informed consent.

In December 2011, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project noted that “more than 37 million hectares [in Colombia have been] licensed for crude oil exploration” and that “80% of the human rights violations that have occurred in Colombia in the last ten years were committed in mining and energy-producing regions”.

Following a visit to Canada by PBI-Colombia accompanied human rights organizations CCALCP and CREDHOS, PBI-Canada continues to monitor this situation closely.

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