Backing fracking

Colombia eyes up fracking as conventional oil and gas reserves dwindle.

Colombia is experiencing a decline in conventional oil and natural gas reserves, which has led the government to promote new exploration alternatives through fracking. According to the National Hydrocarbon Agency of Colombia, the country has the capacity to produce an additional 25,000 barrels of oil per day, increasing current production 12 fold.

“You must understand that the hydrocarbon sector is critical to Colombia,” began a seasoned hydrocarbon executive, “it is fundamental to the State’s income. It generates a significant amount of employment and it provides energy security. Fracking, with a perceived risk of contaminating water sources, is politically complex and local communities need to be sure these risks can be mitigated.”

“[The hydrocarbon industry] is fundamental to the State’s income. It generates a significant amount of employment and it provides energy security.”

Industry executive, Colombia

A veteran of Colombia’s public hydrocarbon sector agreed, “The fracking discussion comes down to concerns over water contamination. People do not trust companies to operate with precision and environmental health concerns in mind. To balance this against Colombia’s desire for wealth creation and energy security is a complicated problem.”

Ecopetrol, the Colombian state-owned company, and ExxonMobil are currently operating two pilot projects, Kalé and Platero, which if they reached the stages of production and commercialisation would increase the country’s oil reserves by 4.6 times, granting Colombia 25 years of self-sufficiency.

These pilots will be crucial in addressing the environmental question, explained the hydrocarbon veteran, “These two pilots are fundamental to the future of fracking in Colombia. For now, the Environmental Impact Study is being worked on with the results expected to be ready by late this year and early next year. If the results are good, we could see drilling begin in the middle of 2022. This could be a significant issue in the Congressional and Presidential elections next year.”

Fracking is strongly opposed by environmental organisations in the country, which have legally contested its regulation. The regulatory framework for fracking is currently being analysed by the State Council of Colombia, the country’s Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the technical regulation put forward by legislators for fracking activities has been temporarily suspended until the publication of the final verdict. The industry executive wasn’t surprised, “The current bills are a joke, they have very limited technical detail, with no depth and series of inaccuracies.”

“The fracking discussion comes down to concerns over water contamination. People do not trust companies to operate with precision and environmental health concerns in mind.”

Veteran of the public hydrocarbon sector, Colombia

Colombia has been debating the convenience of regulating fracking since 2014. The strong opposition of environmental groups, local communities and a UN report warning about the environmental perils of the activity suggest that the debate will not be closed prior to the May 2022 presidential elections. In this context, Gonzalo Andrade, director of the National Science Institute of the National University of Colombia said that Colombia still lacks accurate information to understand the impact that fracking will have on the country’s biodiversity.

The short-term outlook for fracking in Colombia remains uncertain. It is a controversial issue that pits the UN and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights against the National Hydrocarbon Agency, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Ecopetrol and ExxonMobil. For now, all eyes are waiting for the technical and scientific data from Ecopetrol’s pilots and next year’s election results.

Important Notice
While the information in this article has been prepared in good faith, no representation, warranty, assurance or undertaking (express or implied) is or will be made, and no responsibility or liability is or will be accepted by Deheza Limited or by its officers, employees or agents in relation to the adequacy, accuracy, completeness or reasonableness of this article, or of any other information (whether written or oral), notice or document supplied or otherwise made available in connection with this article. All and any such responsibility and liability is expressly disclaimed.
This article has been delivered to interested parties for information only. Deheza Limited gives no undertaking to provide the recipient with access to any additional information or to update this article or any additional information, or to correct any inaccuracies in it which may become apparent.

Most recent in Energy

Power Play

Mexico’s renewable energy race in the presidential arena.

Methanol Marvel

Sinaloa's sustainable industrial revolution in Mexico.

Green horizons

Chile's ENAP and global partners forge the path to hydrogen future. 

Suriname’s oil dream

Total's investment sparks economic transformation.

The green Chile

Chile’s hot renewable energy aspirations...

IBAMA said no!

Brazil’s environment agency stops Petrobras from drilling in the Foz do Amazonas basin.

Batteries not included

With a new operating model, Bolivia dumps the Germans in favour of the Chinese to exploit its lithium reserves.

Petro against petroleum

Petro plans to accelerate Colombia’s energy transition with ban on new exploration contracts.

Renewable leadership

Latin America is aiming for 70% renewable energy but how is it progressing?

Water harvesting

Saint Kitts and Nevis look for rainwater harvesting sites to improve access to water.