Environmentalists express concern that Calgary-based Parex Resources could frack the VSM 25 block in Tolima, Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

On January 5, El Nuevo Dia reported that environmentalists in the Colombian department (province) of Tolima are concerned that a contract awarded to Calgary-based Parex Resources Inc. to extract oil by conventional methods could be extended to fracking.

The contract is for the VSM 25 block in the Upper Magdalena Valley basin. The municipalities in the area include Alvarado, Coello, Ibagué, Piedras and San Luis.

While the contract does not explicitly mention fracking, environmentalists are concerned that the language in it suggests the possibility remains open.

The environmentalists are further concerned by the pattern of Parex providing aid to the municipalities where it has an economic interest.

El Nuevo Dia reports that Parex installed 230 metres of pipe for the community aqueduct in the municipality of Doima, which is located near VSM 25.

Parex reportedly did this work on the aqueduct without previously consulting with the Board of the aqueduct or its users.

Doima is a municipality in the municipality of Piedras.

Following these claims, the community of Doima achieved a commitment from the mayor of Piedras not to accept any contributions from Parex.

And yet, El Nuevo Dia reports, the municipality of Alvarado has had work done to improve its aqueduct seemingly with the support of Parex.

The environmentalists have written to the mayor of Ibagué to determine his position, but no one in that municipality’s administration has responded to them yet.

The former mayor of Ibagué, Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo, has commented: “The Ibagué plateau has the fourth most important aquifer in the country, it is clean and necessary water for the future of a city since surface water is scarce. What would happen if there is an oil exploitation that contaminates those aquifers for us?”

El Nuevo Dia previously reported on the situation in Doima (in Piedras) in July 2020.

The context of that report was that residents of the municipality had voted in a popular consultation against extractivism in their territories:

“Camilo Cifuentes, a resident of Piedras, said that people do not understand why despite the fact that there is a popular consultation that said no to mining and extractive activities Parex insists on operating in a municipality that is supposed to have been protected from this type of activity for about [the last] seven years.”

And last year, Piedras councillor Nelson Ariel Jiménez expressed concern that Parex wants to drill at the head of the Opia River, the main source of water in the area. He highlighted: “[Parex is] trying to enter and convince people whatever, but the same communities have stated that not a step back will be taken and that they will go to the last consequences of defending the territory and enforcing the consultation where the people spoke.”

Parex describes its ‘Water for All’ program on its website: “Through these projects, Parex has managed to convey to the community that oil projects can contribute to the provision of clean water where the Company operates.”

PBI-Canada notes that the United Nations General Assembly has recognized clean water as a fundamental human right essential to the realization of all human rights. The right to water is also recognized in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The El Nuevo Dia articles: In Doima they closed once again the doors to the Parex oil company (July 17, 2020); Environmentalists say that Parex project in Tolima opens the door to fracking (January 5, 2021).

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