Along with fracking, the National Hydrocarbons Agency president suggests tar sands potential in Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On May 7, Portafolio reported that Armando Zamora, the president of the Colombian National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH), told the “Development of the YNC in Colombia” forum organized by the Colombian Petroleum Association (ACP) that there is potential to extract another type of unconventional deposit (yacimiento no convencional) in Colombia.

The article then highlights: “It is the so-called tar sands (arena bituminosa) which are located in six basins and which can produce between 16,000 million and 23,000 million (16-23 billion) additional barrels of crude oil.”

That news report continues: “Portfolio was able to establish with ANH sources that the basins in which this new type of bituminous sand unconventional deposits would be located are the Valle Medio del Magdalena (VMM), Valle Inferior del Magdalena (VIM), César-Ranchería, Sinú-San Jacinto , Urabá and Amagá.”

It also notes: “Likewise, the entity’s technicians explained that for this second type of unconventional deposit, the Magdalena Medio Valley and Cesar-Ranchería basins would concentrate more than 45 per cent of the extraction.”

Concerns about tar sands

Greenpeace has explained: “Here in Canada, the tar sands are huge deposits of bitumen, a tar-like substance that’s turned into oil through energy-intensive processes that pollute rivers, lace the air with toxins and emit more global warming-causing pollution than the entire province of British Columbia.”

Greenpeace has also warned: “First Nations communities in affected areas report unusually high levels of rare cancers and autoimmune diseases.”

And it has been noted that each barrel of oil produced from the tar sands takes 2 to 6 barrels of water that then lead to toxic tailings ponds.

Canada in Colombia

Gustavo Galvis, a representative of Export Development Canada in Bogota, has previously highlighted under “Key opportunities for Canadians”: “At one point, Canada was one of the largest investors in [the oil and gas] sector in Colombia. One of the reasons is because there’s a lot of similarities between the Alberta foothills and the Colombian geography. Canadian operators feel comfortable with the industry and today, some of the most important companies in exploration and production in Colombia are Canadian.”

Claudio Ramirez of the Trade Commissioner Service of Global Affairs Canada has also noted under “Key sector and growth trends”: “Colombian resources are depleting fast, so there’s a push to increase exploration through the auction of new blocks. Technologies related to oil recovery and mature fields are much sought after, as well as in the development of unconventional resources, like fracking and deep-water exploration.”

Ramirez took part in a recent PBI convened virtual meeting between the Regional Corporation in Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS) and officials from Global Affairs Canada and the Embassy of Canada in Colombia.

Meanwhile, Above Ground, Oil Change International and other organizations have called on Export Development to Canada to end all support for fossil fuels and rapidly scale up its support for renewable energy projects that respect human rights.

PBI and Above Ground recently collaborated on this webinar that featured Karen Hamilton and Colombian environmental defenders who expressed concern about conventional extractivism and fracking in the Magdalena Medio region.

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