Authorities have imposed a curfew in a central Colombian municipality in an attempt to regain control of oil worker protests that have forced Pacific Rubiales to shut down production.
The indefinite curfew was announced following three days of clashes between police and oil workers demanding better pay, living conditions, and more stable contracting.
A Reuters bulletin released on Wednesday afternoon suggested police had secured the area following the imposition of the curfew.
On Wednesday morning, Pacific Rubiales Vice President Camilo Valencia announced at a press conference that production had ground to a halt after 300 workers occupied the site.
According to Valencia the protests stopped the extraction of 225,000 barrels a day – approximately 25% of the total production of the country.
He said, “It is a hostile and unjustified occupation of our facilities, which has put the continuity of oil production at risk to the point of a complete shutdown of our sites.”
According to Reuters, by Wednesday afternoon the company was evaluating damage done to the site and hoped to resume production in three to four days.
Top government officials met with representatives of the Canadian oil giant in an emergency summit on Tuesday to discuss the crisis.
Following the meeting Vice Minister of the Interior Aurelio Iragorri told the media, negotiations would only continue if the protests stopped.
He said, “The established paths for dialogue are still open on the condition that the current situation stops immediately.”
On Tuesday, President of the oil workers union USO told Colombia Reports despite their pronouncements the company has persistently refused to meet the terms of agreements made with worker representatives and stalled on returning to negotiations.
Rodolfo Vecino said, “At no time have they [the company] wanted to sit down at the negotiating table with workers representatives.”