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Find here a selection of opinion, background and analysis on the social, political and economic situation in Colombia.

Fracking appeals to Colombia's economic powers

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The oil production in Colombia is going downhill, to the point that stocks are depleted by giant steps.

To date only 1.600 million barrels have been tested, which, according to official estimates, only last for five years; while those of natural gas are hardly given a decade of life. That is to say, Colombia is emerging again as a potential importer of oil and fuels at risk of losing its capacity for self-supply, and all at the end of a five-year period”.

This is the scenario drawn by Crismar Lujano (@Clujan0), published in http://prensarural.org/spip/spip.php?article22297

The situation, Lujano said, has turned on all red alerts. From the government proposals are advanced, but instead of looking to reverse the problem with better investments or the refocusing and promotion of an economy less dependent on raw materials, the remedy seems worse than the disease: fracking.

In the desperation to increase production and oil reserves, Lujano goes on, “Colombia has been seduced by the idea of ​​exploiting its unconventional hydrocarbon deposits, which includes hydraulic fracturing or fracking, an extraction method that allows oil to be obtained after breaking rocky layers at great depth using powerful drills with high pressure water mixed with chemical additives, whose toxicity has stirred a broad global debate within the same industry for the multiple negative effects that the practice has on the environment for the profitability it provides”.

The idea of ​​fracking is not a novelty in Colombia. The first exploration and production contracts were signed in 2012, Lujano says. “However, - he adds - by then no company could begin to operate formally, because there were no environmental guidelines to do so.

Two years later, in March 2014, the Ministry of Mines and Energy issued a technical regulation to encourage the industry, and then the Ministry of Environment issued the terms of reference for fracking studies. Only one piece remains: the guidelines for "sustainable development" of this type of exploitation in which, in theory, clear measures will be established to take care of water and ensure that exploitation will be done away from communities that may have secondary health effects”.

At the moment the road is partially cleared, waiting to eliminate the environmental obstacles, but as fracking gains room in Colombia, the future of hydrocarbon activity in the country is more and more clear.
Lujano writes that “Less than a month ago, Bogotá was the epicenter of the third meeting of the Colombian Petroleum Association, a powerful guild that brings together oil companies that contribute 10% of the New Granada's annual GDP. The event was attended by more than four hundred people, including executives and investors from the United States and Canada. All concluded the same thing: process permissions for the exploitation and extraction of oil through hydraulic fracturing”.

Canada, with a long list of oil multinationals, leads the process with two large companies. First of all, Drummond, the company that has advanced the procedure process most. At the moment it has obtained permits that in theory qualify as "to look for methane gas inside rocks", and by all means of the praxis it is reduced to the same. Fracking. As such, the Canadian Drummond has four projects for this.

The first three granted blocks are located in the vicinity of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a territory in conflict due to an overlap with native lands of the Wiwa, Wayuú and Yupka tribes.

The second company is Parex Resources based in Calgary, Alberta, although it is actually constituted on the island of Barbados. Since 2015, Parex Resources has partnered with Colombian state-owned company Ecopetrol in a 40% -60% relationship in favor of the Canadian company. For the time being, Parex has secured unconventional wells in Barrancabermeja, a municipality located to the west of the department of Santander and conventional in Tame, located in the southwest of the department of Arauca.

Two oil companies also participate on behalf of the United States: ExxonMobil, one of the largest multinationals in the sector, whose annual turnover is estimated to exceed the GDP of countries such as Ireland and Puerto Rico. In Colombia, it is associated with Ecopetrol in the exploration of different wells.

In Latin American country, ExxonMobil operates in more than 700 service stations, 12 fuel plants and even a lubricants plant in Cartagena and until 2014 it invoiced more than $ 6 billion.

For its part, Conocophillips - also American - to date has already adjudicated 33,714 hectares for fracking. The first project has several wells, but they have only developed works in one.

The NGO Movimiento Ambientalista warns that Colombia would be the first country on the planet to perform this technique of oil exploitation in the mountain cordillera without taking into account that 70% of the water comes from the páramos.

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