PBI-Colombia accompanied CREDHOS calls for Environmental Public Hearing scheduled for February 19 to be postponed

Published by Brent Patterson on

On February 18, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project tweeted: “While serious threats and attacks occur @Credhos_Paz + communities in #MagdalenaMedio denounce the absence of measures to mitigate environmental impacts of oil companies‼️ It is requested that the Environmental Hearing be postponed, tomorrow 19F, to guarantee effective participation of communities.”

CREDHOS has issued this public statement on the request by Ecopetrol to modify the Comprehensive Environmental Management Plan (PMAI) De Mares.

CREDHOS explains: “The main objective [of Ecopetrol’s request] is to increase hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities in Centro, Lisama and Llanito” which includes the municipalities of Barrancabermeja, Simacota and Puerto Wilches.

They also note that a public hearing was requested in August 2021 by more than 100 people and three organizations (including CRY-GEAM) to present their concerns focused on irregularities in environmental managements in the areas of exploitation of Ecopetrol and its allies including Calgary-based Parex Resources.

CREDHOS further states: “A relevant aspect of the information meeting [convened on February 5-6 by the National Environmental Licensing Authority/ANLA] was the call by the participants to postpone the Environmental Public Hearing on February 19.”

That’s because the information on the modification of the PMAI De Mares was shared at the end of January in a virtual format, which made it difficult for communities to access and analyze the information.

The statement concludes that CREDHOS:

1- Supports the communities and the participants in the repeated complaints made at the information meeting, which demonstrated the social discontent and the socio-environmental consequences of the expansion of the oil industry in the region.

2- Requests the Colombian State to postpone the public hearing convened for February 19 to guarantee the effective participation of the communities.

3- Requests the Office of the Attorney General and other authorities to support the communities that have requested the postponement.

4- Calls on the international community and multilateral organizations (including the United Nations) to observe the actions of the Colombian State with respect to its obligation to guarantee and respect the fundamental rights of peasant, Afro-Colombian and other communities in rural Magdalena Medio, Santander.

Parex and the Aguas Blancas oil field

We are attentive that Parex operates the Aguas Blancas oil field in the municipality of Bajo Simacota, an area within Ecopetrol’s request to modify the PMAI.

Just prior to World Water Day last year, CREDHOS tweeted: “For a healthy environment, CREDHOS accompanies and supports the processes in defense of water in the territory. We highlight the struggle of the Bajo Simacota community against contamination by oil spills, caused by Parex.”

We also note that Parex may be interested in unconventional fossil fuel extractivism in Colombia. In March 2019, then-energy minister Maria Fernanda Suarez named Parex as one of the companies interested in the fracking pilot projects.

Canadian companies secure 39 new exploration blocks

On January 18, La Republica reported that 30 new contracts valued at US$148.5 million were awarded in 2021 for the exploration and production of crude oil in Colombia.

La Republica adds: “Parex Resources will be the company with the most area allocations, with an investment of more than US$85 million.”

Of the 69 blocks awarded by Colombia between 2019 to 2021, Portafolio has reported 26 blocks went to Parex, 5 blocks to Canacol Energy Ltd., 4 to Gran Tierra Energy and 4 to Frontera Energy.

PBI-Colombia has accompanied CREDHOS since 1994.

“We defend water, because water is life, and I would not exchange a glass of water for a glass of oil.” – Adolfo Salinas Coba

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