By Brent Patterson, Peace Brigades International (PBI), July 4, 2019
Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project accompanies the Luis Carlos Perez Lawyers’ Collective (CCALCP) based n northeastern Colombia.
PBI-Colombia has noted, “CCALCP, in conjunction with the Defence of Water, Territory and Ecosystem Corporation (CORDATEC) presented a collective suit against the National Hydrocarbons Agency and two oil companies to protect the collective rights that are at risk from the development of a hydrocarbons exploration contract.”
Those “two oil companies” are Houston-based ConocoPhillips and a subsidiary of Calgary-based Canacol Energy Ltd.
Earlier this week, Petroleum Economist lamented, “This year, two shale pilot projects were shelved by licensing authority ANLA after operators US independent ConocoPhillips (80pc stake) and Canada’s Canacol (20pc stake) failed to meet minimum environmental requirements.”
Reuters has reported, “The companies did not meet minimum conditions for the Piranga project, a source from the licensing authority said, while the Plata project raised possible water protection concerns.”
While that was a significant win, it’s not likely to be the end of the fight.
That same Reuters article, dated March 20, also reported that ConocoPhillips and Canacol “can request to re-open the licensing process for the projects in the future, the source said, adding the decision is not a definitive no.”
There are also several official processes underway.
On June 7, Colombia’s top administrative court (the Council of State of Colombia) began hearings on fracking.
Reuters explains, “While there is no law against the practice, the government says regulations are needed before it can be used.”
That article adds, “Six magistrates could rule [in July] on whether the suspension should continue, [Magistrate Ramiro] Pazos said, while evidence gathering on whether fracking should go ahead will take until the end of the year.”
On that point, Colombia Reports further explains, “President Ivan Duque appointed a commission of experts in December last year to investigate whether the controversial oil extraction technique is desirable.”
On June 7, the Council of State dismissed their pro-industry report and ordered that a new study be conducted.
Colombia Reports notes, “The State Council wants answers to 30 questions that seek to establish the ‘possible risks and benefits of using this hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation technique in unconventional deposits’ within three months.”
That means that report will likely come out this coming September.
Powerful actors in Colombia are lining up behind fracking.
Petroleum Economist has reported, “Last year, throughout the electoral campaign, Duque promised he would not allow any development of fracking, should he be victorious. But, since taking office, he appears to be backtracking.”
In November 2018, Reuters reported that the Colombian Petroleum Association has argued that fracking “could generate $500 million per project per year in taxes, royalties, dividends for shareholders and salaries…”
And just last month, The Bogota Post reported that “pro-fracking” organizations including the state-run Ecopetrol, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the National Hydrocarbons Agency and ExxonMobil “all argue that fracking is both necessary and feasible.”
Meanwhile, communities are mobilizing to ban fracking.
The UK-based group War on Want has noted that fracking would threaten the Chingaza páramo, a water ecosystem that provides Bogota with four-fifth of its drinking water, the Sumapaz paramo, which is a national park in Colombia, and other wetland ecosystems.
It has also warned that if fracking proceeds much of it could be on the territories of the Indigenous Yupka, Wiwa and Wayúu peoples and cross into territories considered sacred to the Kogi, Wiwa, Kankuamo and Aruaco peoples.
Earlier this week, Petroleum Economist, commenting on the obstacles to moving forward with fracking in Colombia, reduced that to: “Unconventional assets are often near indigenous lands, which could pose further headaches.”
CCALCP continues its work to defend Indigenous rights, uphold the right to water, and protect the environment from fracking and other extractive harms.
Peace Brigades International-Canada will be hosting a representative from CCALCP at public forums in Vancouver, Nanaimo, Toronto and Ottawa this coming November. More details on that November 3-10 speaking tour soon!
Posted July 12, 2019