Petro government seeks to cancel Platero and Kalé fracking pilot projects in Puerto Wilches, Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: On August 10, Environment Minister Susana Muhamad was at the media conference announcing new legislation that seeks to ban fracking in Colombia.

El Tiempo has reported that Environment Minister Susana Muhamad, the Minister of Mines and Energy Irene Vélez and 65 members of Congress filed a bill in Congress on August 10 that seeks to prohibit fracking in Colombia.

Kalé and Platero pilot projects

Portafolio adds: “it should be remembered, there are two pilot research projects: Kalé and Platero. The first of them already has an environmental license, with which it could start operating.”

El Colombiano further explains: “This new project [legislation banning fracking], which has the support of the National Government, through Minister Mohamad, not only prohibits this practice, but also vetoes the development of the Integral Research Pilot Projects (PPII) of Platero and Kalé, and even seeks to freeze the latter’s environmental license, which was approved by the National Authority for Environmental Licenses (ANLA).”

And Valora Analitik notes: “[Kalé] was awarded by the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) to the hydrocarbon company in November 2020, already has an environmental license from the Environmental Licensing Authority (ANLA), granted in February 2022. Meanwhile, Platero, the second of Ecopetrol’s projects, is awaiting environmental licensing by the authority that grants the permits in the country.”

Government reviewing the status of the pilot projects

Minister Vélez says: “We are going to review the status of the two pilot projects: Kalé and Platero. Both currently have situations in front of the environmental situation and it will be our commitment to fulfill the country that there will be no fracking, both from a research perspective.”

Investor rights

The El Tiempo article adds: “There are several companies that could claim to have acquired rights.”

It further notes: “It should be remembered that in past years the country had signed exploration agreements with three companies: Parex, Drummond and ConocoPhillips. There are 7 projects that were suspended by the Council of State, but that came to light with the most recent decision of the body. Regarding these, the article states that ‘as of the issuance of this law, contracts, concessions, licenses or environmental permits for the exploration, exploitation and production of Non-Conventional Deposits may not be signed, added to or granted.’”

Parex, Sintana and Canacol in Colombia

As El Tiempo notes above, Calgary-based Parex Resources has a signed exploration agreement with Colombia.

Earlier this year, Parex highlighted: “On September 18, 2014, Parex Colombia signed an E&P Contract with the ANH for Block VMM-9 [in the Magdalena Medio region].”

Additionally, Toronto-based Sintana Energy holds a 30 per cent non-operating share in VMM-37, the Platero fracking pilot project block.

And Calgary-based Canacol Energy Ltd. holds a 20 per cent stake in the VMM-2/Plata and VMM-3/Piranga projects. In April 2021 the company noted the “significant potential” for fracking these blocks.

The Canadian position

The Government of Canada has not taken a public position on fracking in Colombia. Nor has it taken a position on Canadian corporations utilizing the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement for lost investments and future profits if fracking is banned.

More than 200,000 wells have been horizontally fracked for shale gas or oil in Canada, mostly in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, with some wells in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

We continue to follow this situation particularly with respect to the threats and attacks experienced by human rights defenders opposed to fracking in the Puerto Wilches area.

Photo: On June 28, PBI-Canada met with social leaders in Puerto Wilches and heard their commitment to stop fracking. We continue to follow this situation.

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