The Colombian government promised to improve protection for international oil companies working in the country, following a recent surge in violence, reported newspaper El Espectador Friday.
In the face of a deterioting security situation for multinationals in southwest Colombia, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said, “Security forces have specific plans to address all situations that may disrupt public order.”
The government has improved its security measures over recent years, causing a surge in production that has doubled since 2007, but alleged guerrilla attacks against foreign oil companies have continued, intensifying over the last year.
Oil transportation companies refused to work in the volatile Caqueta department Wednesday following an alleged FARC attack on an oil convoy which killed two people. Chinese-owned multinational Emerald Energy has also recently suspended operations following a succession of attacks over more than a year.
The surge in violence comes at a bad time, as the government prepares to auction off 109 oil blocks to foreign companies. The Colombian Petroleum Association (ACP), which unionizes employees of international oil producers, has claimed that instability prevented the production of 45,000 barrels of oil between January and February this year.
ACP President Alejandro Martinez admitted there were security concerns within the oil sector but insisted, “We are confident that the security forces are making the right decisions.”