Ecopetrol waiting for ANLA approval of Platero fracking pilot project on land that Canadian company holds commercial interest

Published by Brent Patterson on

Share This Page

Video: This week PBI-Colombia accompanied CREDHOS environmental engineer Juna Camilo Delgado spoke about the fracking pilot projects.

Radio Nacional reports: “On Wednesday [March 30], the president of Ecopetrol, Felipe Bayón, confirmed that the company is currently waiting to receive the environmental license for a second comprehensive research pilot project in Colombia, also known as fracking.”

That article adds: “He pointed out that the application for the granting of an environmental license for the second pilot project called Platero was filed on February 15 with the National Environmental Licensing Authority (ANLA).”

The Platero fracking pilot project proposal was first submitted to the Colombian National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) on March 17, 2021.

The ANH gave its provisional approval of that proposal on March 31, 2021.

On April 16, 2021, Toronto-based Sintana Energy Inc. stated it was pleased to comment on the ANH acceptance of the ExxonMobil Comprehensive Research Pilot Project (CEPI) Platero project bid to be conducted in Block VMM-37.

The company confirmed: “Sintana, via wholly owned Patriot Energy Sucursal Colombia (Patriot), holds an undivided 30% non-operated participation interest in a Contract for Exploration and Production for Block VMM-37.”

“The Company’s support for Project Platero is made even though the Government’s process excluded an important segment of the petroleum industry by not allowing smaller companies, such as companies the size of Sintana, to participate in CEPI bids.”

And the company noted: “Sintana has been and continues to be in positive communications with both ExxonMobil and the ANH 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.”

Sintana is not the only Canadian company to welcome the fracking pilot projects in Colombia.

On April 21, Charle Gamba, the CEO of Calgary-based Canacol Energy Ltd., commented that the two pilots are “positive steps towards realizing the commercial potential of the unconventional shale oil field in Colombia and specifically for the resources prospects that we have through our position in the Middle Magdalena Valley basin.”

At that time, Gamba also stated: “[Calgary-based Boury Global Energy Consultants] BGEC’s independent assessment of the prospective unconventional resources reaffirms the materiality and significant potential of Canacol’s unconventional shale oil blocks.”

If fracking is commercially approved in Colombia, Canacol would likely seek to explore and extract from the VMM-2/Plata and VMM-3/Piranga projects near San Martin, Cesar, in collaboration with the American transnational ConcoPhillips.

It’s also possible that Calgary-based Parex Resources Inc. is considering the commercial potential of fracking in Colombia.

As far back as March 2019, Colombia’s then-Mines and Energy Minister Maria Fernanda Suarez stated that Parex was among the companies “seeking to operate” a fracking block. Environmental defender Oscar Sampayo has further noted that Parex has had an interest in fracking Block VMM9 near Cimitarra, Santander since 2014.

Furthermore, Toronto-based Frontera Energy may also have an interest in the commercial potential of fracking in Colombia.

Frontera Energy is a minority owner in 236,000 barrel per day pipeline that runs from the Magdalena Medio region to Coveñas on the Caribbean coast.

Back in August 2019, Oleoducto de Colombia Chief Executive Officer Natalia De la Calle said it is ready to move increased crude output is fracking is approved. The Reuters article that reported this also highlighted that the Magdalena Medio region is home to geological formations that hold between 2 billion and 7 billion barrels of crude.

Drilling could begin this year

In November 2021, Natural Gas Intelligence reported: “Ecopetrol continues to advance two horizontal drilling pilot programs, Kalé and Platero, in conjunction with ExxonMobil.”

That article adds: “Executives expect the pilot projects to come online by 2023.”

By December 2021, Diario del Huila reported: “The president of [Ecopetrol], Felipe Bayón, said that although it is estimated that the extractions will begin in 2023, they could be advanced to 2022 if everything goes well.”

Environmental defenders at risk

This is happening despite the ongoing threats against environmental defenders who are speaking against fracking in Colombia.

Last month, Afro-Colombian activist Yuvelis Natalia Morales, the founder of the youth group Aguawil (the Committee for the Defence of Water, Life and Territory in Puerto Wilches) had to flee to France because of the threats against her.

The Government of France has stated its welcoming of Yuvelis and other women human rights defenders is “consistent with France’s feminist diplomacy.”

Last year, Yuvelis told PBI-Canada: “When we became a problem for the oil companies, those interested in promoting fracking and its economic benefits, they started to threaten, stigmatize, and silence us. More than eight of our youth have been threatened.”

PBI-Colombia accompanied CREDHOS president Ivan Madero also raised similar concerns at a meeting with Global Affairs Canada in November 2019.

Given this context, we continue to ask Canada to advocate for threatened environmental defenders and ensure that Canadian companies with an interest in fracking are not benefitting from the context of threats against land and water defenders.

CREDHOS president meets with Global Affairs Canada, November 5, 2019.

Share This Page
Categories: News Updates


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *