NOMADESC warns of climate change as Canadian companies invest in extractivism in Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

On April 22, Earth Day, the Association for Research and Social Action (NOMADESC) tweeted: “SOS Planet Earth. The predatory, neoliberal and capitalist development model is responsible for the environmental crisis and climate change that humanity is suffering. #HumanitarianEmergency #EnvironmentalEmergency”

Offshore oil and gas

The Cali-based NOMADESC image above features humpback whales.

A Colombian government tourism website notes: “Cali, capital of the department of Valle del Cauca, opens its doors to a number of local and international visitors during the [whale] sighting season. [It] is strategically located due to its proximity to the municipalities of Guapi (Cauca) and Buenaventura (Valle del Cauca), which are Pacific coastal populations along the path of humpback whales.”

In July 2021, Bloomberg reported: “Oil majors are gearing up to explore off the coast of Colombia.”

S&P Global adds: “The emerging and [offshore] frontier basins of this region may represent an attractive investment opportunity given Colombia’s relatively benign investment environment for upstream companies.”

By December 2021, BNAmericas noted: “Shell and Ecopetrol are among several companies planning deepwater exploration activities off Colombia’s northern coastline.”

Significantly, Banking on Climate Chaos reveals that Toronto-based Scotiabank has provided more than USD $3 billion in financing to Ecopetrol following the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement in December 2015.

Canadian companies among the top producers

Earlier this month, an article in La Republica also noted that Canadian companies currently extract 1.1 million barrels of oil (per month) in Colombia.

Chart of main crude oil producers in the country, in addition to Ecopetrol.

The Canadian companies noted in the chart above are Toronto-based Frontera Energy and Calgary-based Gran Tierra and Parex Resources.

The article adds:

Frontera Energy is located in the fourth position [when Ecopetrol is included]. This Canadian company continued with its focus on exploration and development fields, which allowed it to exceed 40,000 barrels of production per day in 2021, both in gas and crude oil.

This Canadian-based company operates national fields such as Abanico, in Espinal, Tolima, and Arauco, located in San Luis de Palenque, under the Cubiro contract. The Bastidas well, in Orocué, Casanare, also stands out.

Completing the top 5 is Gran Tierra Energy, which generates 100% of its revenues in Colombian territory with a capital expenditure of US$149.9 million. Last year, this company drilled 19 development wells in blocks such as Acordionero, in San Martín, Cesar, with the Midas contract.

$8 billion in assets in Colombia

In 2018, Natural Resources Canada noted: “The top five countries by CEAA [Canadian Energy Assets Abroad] value are the United States ($190 billion), Colombia ($8 billion), Germany ($6 billion), Mexico ($6 billion) and France ($4 billion).”

39 new exploration blocks

In January 2022, the Colombian newspaper Portafolio reported that Colombia had concessioned 69 exploration blocks between 2019 and 2021. With 26 blocks to Parex Resources Inc., 5 blocks to [Calgary-based] Canacol Energy Ltd., 4 to Gran Tierra Energy and 4 to Frontera Energy, 39 of the 69 blocks went to Canadian companies.

Tweet from Claudio Ramirez, Canada’s trade commissioner in Colombia.

Interest in fracking

Canadian companies have also expressed their interest in the commercial potential of fracking in Colombia.

In March 2019, Colombia’s then-Mines and Energy Minister Maria Fernanda Suarez (it’s now Diego Mesa Puyo) stated that Parex Resources Inc. was among the companies “seeking to operate” a fracking block.

In April 2021, Toronto-based Sintana Energy Ltd. welcomed the news of the U.S. company ExxonMobil being granted a pilot project contract for Platero/VMM-37 (an area of land that ExxonMobil co-owns with Sintana) and stated that the fracking pilot projects should provide an effective path forward for future operations.

In June 2021, the CEO of Canacol Energy Ltd. also commented: “The objectives of these [fracking pilot projects] are to demonstrate that this important resource can be developed in an environmentally safe way, similar to how the same unconventional resources have been implemented in the United States and Canada.”

And while not reported as a contender for fracking, 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 that is reportedly ready to move increased crude output if fracking is approved beyond the pilot projects.

Canadian banks financing extractivism

The Banking on Climate Chaos search function shows that Scotiabank has provided $601.87 million in financing to Parex Resources between 2016 to 2021.

Scotiabank has also provided $811.13 million to Gran Tierra over that same period, while Toronto-based RBC provided another $194.46 million to the company.

And as noted above, Scotiabank has also provided $3,031.67 million ($3 billion) to Ecopetrol (the company that will be operating the two fracking pilot projects in Puerto Wilches, Santander in the Magdalena Medio region of Colombia).

Meanwhile, other global banks have provided $1.153 billion to Canacol Energy and $630.00 million to Frontera Energy.

Surveillance of protests against extractivism

This past November, NOMADESC expressed its concern about surveillance by the police while they provided legal advice victims of violence during the national strike.

Many of those who took to the streets would be concerned about the neoliberalism and environmental crisis that NOMADESC tweeted about this week.

In November 2019, when the national strike mobilizations first began, reported that the Colombian National Police would “deploy its entire fleet of Bell 407 Halcón surveillance helicopters in the main cities of the country, where the most important concentrations are expected to occur.”

That most likely would have included the city of Cali.

Semana further reported that the Bell 407 helicopters are equipped with high resolution cameras equipped with facial recognition technology.

In 2013-14, the Canadian Commercial Corporation (a government agency) facilitated the sale four Bell 407 helicopters to the National Police. The helicopters were manufactured by Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Ltd. of Mirabel, Quebec. Those Canadian-made helicopters could have been used to surveil the protests.

Canadian armoured vehicles and the National Strike

On July 17, 2021, Alejandra Wilches tweeted: “This morning on some roads in the country, the police detained different delegations heading to the National People’s Assembly in Cali!”

The police vehicle in her photos is a Canadian made Huron tactical attack and defense vehicle manufactured by the Toronto company INKAS.

Last year, PBI-Colombia tweeted: “The Canadian embassy @CanadayColombia visits the office of @Nomadesc in Cali. To talk about the causes of the protests and learn first-hand about cases of police violence. Nomadesc requested guarantees that Canada will not assist the Colombian police with equipment.”

The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project has accompanied NOMADESC since 2011 and its president Berenice Celeita since 1999.

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