FARC attacks and threats against oil infrastructure in southern Colombia have completely halted the production of one multinational company since March, financial magazine Portafolio reported Tuesday.
Emerald Energy, a UK-based subsidiary of the Chinese-owned conglomerate SinochemGroup, last shipped oil from the southern Colombian department of Caqueta on March 11. That same day the FARC attacked a company oil tanker and killed one of its drivers. It was allegedly the FARC’s 25th such assault since January. The company has since suspended its operations in the region indefinitely.
In 2011 Emerald Energy had a potential oil production of 3,120 barrels of crude a day in the north of Caqueta. As of July 2012, the company stopped production entirely due to the FARC’s continuous intimidation tactics and violence against oil infrastructure.
“We could not keep risking people’s lives. Despite the army’s efforts, guarantees have not been given,” an Emerald Energy spokesperson told Portafolio.
According to Emerald Energy, the 115-mile stretch between the town of San Vicente del Caguan and one of the company’s main oil wells in the area, “Pozo Capella 1,” said to have a potential of 100 million barrels of heavy oil, is a strategic military zone for the FARC’s Teofilo Forero mobile column, which has continuously attacked oil tankers and their military escorts throughout 2012.
Despite the loss of “millions” of Colombian pesos in the past few months, local authorities and Emerald Energy have yet to define a security plan for the company or set a date to renew oil transports.
While there are no exact figures for the oil company’s losses in the past four months, Coorpoamazonía, one of the many transport firms contracted by Emerald Energy, said it had lost around $450,000 in that period.
“We believe that before this year is over we will return to having this resource. Oil provides jobs for many Caquetean families and we have asked the multinational companies to give work to the people of our region,” Caqueta Governor Victor Isidro Ramirez said in an interview with Portafolio.
The army said the numerous FARC attacks against Emerald Energy were authorized by “Joaquin Gomez,” the leader of the FARC’s Southern Bloc, after the multinational company refused to pay extortion money to the rebel group.
The Colombian army said regional security would be “doubled” in the coming months and announced on Tuesday the formation of eight new battalions aimed at protecting the country’s pipelines.
“Ecopetrol will handle all the logistics to ensure our forces have decent living conditions,” said Mauricio Cardenas, the minister of mines and energy. He also revealed that his ministry is “coordinating security operations and actions for the early completion of the construction of the Bicentennial pipeline.” The $4.2 billion pipeline, set to become the country’s longest, will transport 125,000 barrels daily from the departments of Casanare and Meta to the Caribbean coast.