Council of State ruling allows Ecopetrol to carry out first fracking drilling in Puerto Wilches as early as October

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: On June 28, PBI-Canada met with a PBI-Colombia accompanied CREDHOS convened meeting of social leaders in Puerto Wilches and heard their determination to stop fracking and to defend life, water and territory.

This week, the Council of State, the supreme judicial tribunal with jurisdiction over administrative issues in Colombia, ruled against an appeal to stop the fracking pilot projects in Puerto Wilches.

Semana reports: “The Council of State upheld its decision not to suspend the environmental requirements that were established in the regulatory decree of the fracking pilot projects in Colombia. The judicial corporation denied an appeal through which it was sought that, provisionally, they be left without effect during this mandate.”

The appeal was based on a November 26, 2021, order in which a request for the suspension of the fracking pilot projects was denied.

La FM further explains: “The determination implies that the decrees will remain in force as long as that is the will of the administration and until a substantive ruling on their legality is issued. The decree also allowed the signing of the first fracking pilot contract between Ecopetrol and the Government at the end of 2020, ‘thus starting the exploration process over a specific area: Puerto Wilches Santander.’”

And Infobae notes: “Thus, the ruling means that the decree that allows fracking pilots in Colombia, which was issued in November last year, will remain active. To reverse this regulation, it will be necessary for the Government of Gustavo Petro to issue new decrees with different provisions.”

Thus, their headline warns: Fracking pilots will continue in Colombia for the time being, the Council of State confirmed.

Petro government opposes fracking

The government of President Gustavo Petro – who was sworn into office on August 7 this year – opposes fracking.

On July 7, just weeks after he won the second-round election, Petro tweeted: “There will be no fracking in Colombia.”

And just after her appointment as environment minister, Susana Muhamad commented: “The door is closed to fracking in Colombia, we believe that going to look for the last remnants of gas generates more harm than good. We believe that fracking is not an alternative for a complex like Colombian ecosystems. We must accelerate the energy transition.”

The Minister of Finance, José Antonio Ocampo, has also stated: “Ecopetrol is going to have to get into the idea that there will be no fracking.”

And the Minister of Mines and Energy Irene Vélez has said: “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.”

Drilling at Kalé next month?

Semana has noted: “Ecopetrol said in May that it expected to carry out the first drilling in Kalé in October of this year, while in Platero it would do so in the first quarter of 2023.”

We note that Toronto-based Sintana Energy Inc. has highlighted that it “holds an undivided 30% non-operated participation interest in a Contract for Exploration and Production for Block VMM-37” where the Platero project would be conducted.

We also note that Toronto-based Scotiabank provided to Ecopetrol, the operator of both fracking pilot projects, USD $665 million in 2018, another $666.67 million in 2020, and $1.7 billion in 2021 for a total of $3.0 billion in financing.

Al Jazeera has reported: “Local environmental defenders [opposed to fracking] and a representative of the JEP [the Special Jurisdiction for Peace] told Al Jazeera that they suspected a connection between the paramilitary groups intimidating them and the state-owned Ecopetrol, which is behind the fracking project.”

We continue to follow this situation.

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