Colombia’s environmental authority temporarily suspended the processing of a license requested by Ecopetrol for a fracking oil exploration project until a high court decides whether to re-establish regulations for the development of unconventional oil deposits.
In Colombia there are no oil exploration and exploitation activities with fracking, but the government of President Iván Duque is in favor of promoting a broad technical discussion, despite strong opposition from left-wing politicians, communities and environmentalists.
The license process that was suspended was Guane-A, located in the department of Santander, in northeastern Colombia, an area with high potential in unconventional deposits.
“The National Authority of Environmental Licenses (ANLA) clarifies that this procedure will not continue the evaluation process given the pronouncement of the State Council on the rules related to unconventional deposits,” said an official statement.
The decision to suspend the processing of the license does not imply a definitive denial, explained an ANLA source.
A commission of experts recommended to the government at the beginning of the year to implement pilot projects in unconventional deposits with fracking under strict environmental monitoring, before deciding whether the controversial technique can be widely used.
A high court in Colombia, the Council of State, began a long road in June on the possible use of the controversial technique of fracking for oil production and temporarily suspended regulations for the development of unconventional oil deposits.
Colombia, which reached a production of 865,127 barrels per day in 2018, has a potential of between 3,000 million and 9,000 million barrels of oil equivalent in unconventional deposits, that is between 2 and 6 times the current reserves, according to the government.