Colombia joins the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, environmental defender Yuvelis Morales says no to fracking in the territories

Published by Brent Patterson on

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CREDHOS tweet: Yuvelis Morales and others at “1st Summit Against Fracking and Unconventional Deposits, committed to the defense of territory, water and life.”

The Colombian government has joined the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA), an international alliance of governments and stakeholders working together to facilitate the managed phase-out of oil and gas production.

Yuvelis Morales, a member of the Alliance for a Colombia Free of Fracking, comments: “For us, communities on the front line of exploitation, continuing fossil fuel production is the equivalent of signing our own death warrant. In the long run, the same will apply to Colombia and the planet as a whole. So yes, Colombia’s joining the BOGA is very good news.”

She adds: “However, what must go hand in hand with the country’s international commitments is the implementation  at the territorial level to end of all new oil production. Saying yes to BOGA means saying no to fracking in our territories.”

The proposed law to ban fracking in Colombia

Oil Change International notes: “The announcement comes as the Congress considers a proposed law that will ban fracking and extraction of non-conventional oil and gas deposits, a civil society organizations` effort supported by the Government but facing opposition from some of the industry-aligned forces.”

In May 2023, the Colombian law firm Brigard Urrutia noted: “After approval in the first debate, the Senate of Colombia approved in second debate the Bill 114 of 2022 that seeks the prohibition of fracking in Colombia. The Bill must be reviewed and approved by the House of Representatives of the Congress of Colombia. Once it is approved, it will be submitted to presidential approval to become a law.”

On August 31, 2023, the Alliance for a Colombia Free of Fracking tweeted: “Let’s remember that the Bill needs 2 debates in the House of Representatives and if these debates are not held before June 20, the bill will be archived.”

Canada and BOGA

When the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance was announced in October 2021, just prior to the United Nations COP26 climate summit in Scotland, Canada’s then-Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson declined to commit to the alliance.

Canada is still not among its member countries.

It might be asked though: Is Canada providing diplomatic support to the Canadian companies that want to frack in Colombia?

Toronto-based Sintana Energy has confirmed it holds an undivided 30% non-operated participation interest in Block VMM-37 in the municipality of Puerto Wilches, in the department of Santander, where the Platero fracking pilot project would take place. In April 2023, Sintana expressed its disappointment that ExxonMobil was withdrawing from the Platero fracking pilot project.

Calgary-based Parex Resources signed an exploration and production contract on September 18, 2014, with the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) to frack Block VMM-9 in the Magdalena Medio region. In December 2021, Parex noted that contract had been suspended “due the lack of regulations to explore and exploit unconventional hydrocarbons.”

And Calgary-based Canacol Energy Ltd. has commented that Platero and Kalé, the two fracking pilot projects near Puerto Wilches, 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.” If fracking were allowed to proceed 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 ConocoPhillips.

On a Peace Brigades International-Canada organized webinar on May 8, 2022, Yuvelis commented on Canada in Colombia: “When you go and exploit other countries, when your companies and banks are investing in mining and energy megaprojects in other countries where human rights are being violated every day, you are not an environmentalist country, you are not a green country.”

She then highlighted: “ I’m sorry to be so blunt. This is a reality that people don’t often want to say because when you open your mouth that could mean you are shot in the forehead. This is the situation faced by Carolina, Juan Camilo and myself.”

Video: PBI-Canada webinar with Yuvelis Morales, Carolina Agón, Juan Camilo Delgado, Bronwen Tucker and Luis van Isschot.

Numerous concerns have been raised about the role played by Canadian embassies in support of Canadian extractivism, notably Calgary-based Blackfire Exploration Ltd. in Mexico (and the death of Mariano Abarca), Vancouver-based Pan American Silver in Guatemala, as well as the General Mining Law in Honduras that was “developed and passed with strong diplomatic support from the Canadian embassy.”

The Inter Press Service (IPS) has also reported: “The drafting of Colombia’s laws governing oil and mining has come under scrutiny from trade unionists and human rights activists, who allege that CIDA, the Canadian International Development Agency, helped write the legislation to advance the interests of Canadian companies operating in the country.”

And in August 2019 the Canadian Embassy’s Trade Commissioner highlighted “the development of unconventional resources, like fracking and deep-water exploration” in an article about “business opportunities” in Colombia.

To date, the Canadian Embassy in Colombia has declined to take a public position in support of a prohibition of fracking in Colombia, nor did Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault when he visited Colombia in October 2022.

We continue to follow this situation.

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