Ecopetrol and ExxonMobil submit fracking assessment to Colombian licensing agency on block co-owned with Canadian company

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo by CREDHOS.

On February 17, Bnamericas reported: “Ecopetrol and ExxonMobil have submitted an environmental impact assessment (EIA) [to the National Environmental Licensing Agency/ANLA] for their Platero fracking pilot in northern Colombia as they step up unconventional drilling plans.”

That article adds: “The EIA is considered a key step in the companies’ plans to secure an environmental permit for the project, located in the Puerto Wilches area of Santander department. …Ecopetrol has said it expects permits for both projects to be approved this year, paving the way for the start of drilling activity.”

Toronto company and the Platero fracking project

In April 2021, Toronto-based Sintana Energy Ltd. welcomed the news of Texas-based ExxonMobil being granted a pilot project contract for Platero/VMM-37, an area of land that ExxonMobil co-owns with Sintana.

Argus Media has previously reported: “The block is operated by ExxonMobil with a 70 percent stake. The remaining 30 percent belongs to Patriot Energy, a subsidiary of Canada’s Sintana Energy.”

Sintana Energy has also stated: “Regarding Project Platero, Sintana has been and continues to be in positive communications with both ExxonMobil and the ANH [National Hydrocarbon Agency] to ensure that the integrity of both the Company’s commercial arrangements with ExxonMobil and the Contract for VMM-37 with the ANH are honored.”

And an article in Petroguia has noted: “In the VMM-37 block granted to the North American company ExxonMobil, in Puerto Wilches (Santander), it would contemplate the cutting of 109 hectares of forest, the capture of an average of more than six daily pools of water in the Magdalena and Sogamoso rivers, and a polygon area comparable to 21,655 soccer fields, which will impact five townships.”

Commercial development beyond pilot projects

Sintana’s media release suggest they look forward to the commercial production that could follow the pilot projects.

The Bnamericas article adds: “Their commercial development, however, hinges on a decision by Colombia’s highest administrative tribunal. The council of state, as the tribunal is known, ordered a moratorium on unconventional drilling in 2018, citing socio-environmental concerns of local communities and lobbyists. While the pilots were exempt from the ruling, the court has yet to decide whether to allow the practice on a commercial scale.”

Threats against social leaders opposed to fracking

Last week, PBI-Colombia tweeted: “We accompanied @Credhos_Paz at a press conference on the serious increase in the presence of armed groups in Magdalena Medio with serious consequences in terms of human rights. Urgent measures are required to provide security guarantees in the region.”

CREDHOS president Iván Madero says: “Armed actors have taken a stand on the issue of fracking. In recent days the AGC [Clan del Golfo /Gaitanist Self-Defense Forces] summoned meetings to the communities in San Pablo and Puerto Wilches, after the absence of the community the self-defence groups publish a pamphlet where they threaten the leaders and associations that oppose the fracking pilots.”

In November 2019, PBI coordinated this advocacy tour in Canada with representatives from the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS) and the Luis Carlos Pérez Collective Lawyers Corporation (CCALCP) who highlighted their concerns about fracking at numerous meetings across the country.

Among other follow-up activities, we co-organized this webinar with CREDHOS and Above Ground in April 2021 on the issue of fracking in Colombia.

We continue to follow this situation with concern.

Categories: News Updates

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