The operations of companies that work in the oil sector have been hampered by social unrest, environmental issues and public order problems in the territories, which has led the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) to receive 67 requests for termination of contracts since 2012.

The vice president of Promotion and Assignment of Areas of the ANH, Andrés Bitar, assured that in these contracts there was no «not even an exploratory activity» And the paradox is that this is the same number of new oil contracts that were awarded during the four years of the government of former President Iván Duque.

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«As an industry we are doing something wrong if on the one hand we sign 60 contracts in four years, but in a single year we are receiving requests for multiple contracts,» said the ANH vice president.

The first request for termination of the contract was filed in 2012 with the ANH, but 2018 was the year in which most companies opted for this option, totaling 13 requests that year. While in 2016 and 2021 11 were filed each year.

In the months leading up to 2023, only one request for termination of the contract has been submitted. All are still under study at the ANH to determine if the companies’ arguments are valid to endorse the termination of the contracts.

The 67 contracts the representative 20.3 percent of the 330 that the ANH has delivered to the companies. Of these, 226 are currently underway and operations have been suspended in 37 for the same reasons (11.3 percent).

The basins that concentrate the largest number of contracts in the process of termination in the ANH are Eastern Plains (16), Caguan-Putumayo (12) and the Middle Magdalena Valley (9). Meanwhile, the companies that have been most affected and have made these requests are Ecopetrol (16), Gran Tierra Energy (8) and Hocol (6).

These same regions also concentrate most of the suspended contracts. Leads Caguan-Putumayo (14), the same area where it operates emerald energythat a few days ago had to face the destruction of its facilities and the kidnapping of its workers.

Then the Eastern Plains (10) and the Middle Magdalena Valley (6) appear. The companies that more have suspended operations are Amerisur (6)Gran Tierra Energy (5) and Parex Resources (4).

(Also read: Hydrocarbon reserves will have risen in 2022 due to high oil prices)

Vice President of Promotion and Allocation of Areas of the ANH, Andrés Bitar


Juan Quintero – Andi

We cannot continue thinking that hydrocarbons are going to save us for the rest of our lives, we have to start thinking about
other sources

Andrés Bitar assured that security problems and social conflict are not new, since they have persisted for more than 15 years in the country. In addition, that the public order difficulties they are registered because in Colombia it has not been possible to close the social gaps in the regions.

(Of interest: The price of oil is at its lowest level since December 2021).

«Until we can give employability opportunities and opportunities to generate wealth to the less favored communities in the territory, we are going to have conflict,» he added.

The vice president of the ANH was also emphatic in assuring that work will be done Reduce Colombia’s dependence on hydrocarbonsbut at the same time he recognized that the resources provided by this sector will be key to financing the energy transition in the country.

«We cannot continue thinking that hydrocarbons are going to save us for the rest of our lives.We have to start thinking about other sources of generating wealth and employability, without wanting to say under any circumstances that tomorrow we are going to turn off the gas and oil switch,” he said.

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Exploration must continue because there are contracts that for different reasons are not carrying out exploration activities

In this sense, one of the purposes of this Government is to promote the more than 300 contracts that are signed today and guarantee that they will be carried out successfully, since, according to the Vice Minister (e) of Energy, Cristián Díaz, for the moment, no new contracts will be awarded. However, she said this does not mean «never again new contracts.»

“You have to continue exploring because there are contracts that for different reasons are not doing exploration activities. The first thing is to review what is there and put everything to work as far as possible and what is already working, see how we can improve it, ”added the vice minister (e).

For this, the ANH has available 45,000 million pesos per year to promote these contracts through the strengthening of the National Authority for Environmental Licenses (ANLA), the Ministry of the Environment, the Regional Autonomous Corporations and the National Directorate of Prior Consultation.

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According to Bitar, it is key to review what must be done to guarantee that companies can make the previous consultations required to have the environmental licenses that allow them to start up the operations. In addition to having the social license, for which the ANH will focus on the communities being able to understand how the hydrocarbon sector works in order to execute the projects.