The oil giant Ecopetrol has ruled out the possibility of fracking as a tool for extracting oil in Colombia. This was stated by its leaders during the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the Colombian company’s presence on the New York Stock Exchange.
The company’s president, Ricardo Roa, along with its board of directors, performed the traditional bell-ringing ceremony to open trading on Monday at the New York Stock Exchange. The event, which marked the 15 years of the state-owned company being listed on the world’s most important stock exchange, coincided with Investor Day.
In this special context, Roa announced Ecopetrol’s long-term plan, outlined in the so-called Strategy 2040, in which the use of fracking in the country is completely ruled out, with a focus on gas as the main axis in its efforts to achieve energy transition in Colombia.
No to Fracking
Fracking is a technique that emerged in the 1940s and is primarily applied to unconventional reservoirs to stimulate the extraction of hydrocarbons. This process involves creating artificial fractures in the rock by injecting fluids at high pressure.
This technique uses various substances and procedures that can pose risks to human health and the environment, including explosion hazards, aquifer contamination, droughts in water sources, underground soil layer ruptures, difficulties in livestock, agriculture, and tourism areas, among others.
For this reason, it is a particularly controversial technique. During the 2022 presidential campaign, President Petro’s candidacy announced on several occasions that if elected, fracking would not be used in Colombia.
This is precisely what Ecopetrol’s board of directors announced today. “The development of hydrocarbon exploration activity in non-conventional reservoirs in Colombia is not contemplated,” was the announcement made by the state-owned company’s executives in New York. This means that the pilot plans that had been announced in the Magdalena Medio region are now discarded.
Two Other Areas of Action
In addition to abandoning fracking, Ecopetrol’s action plan focuses on two other areas:
- The strategic lever of Caribe Offshore to maximize the potential of offshore gas in the Colombian Caribbean.
- Replacing the strategic objective of Energy Efficiency to optimize internal consumption to 25 petajoules, the unit of energy measurement, accumulated over the period 2018-2030.
In this regard, Ricardo Roa made a plea in favor of the company’s strong commitment to transitioning to clean energies. However, the President of Ecopetrol stated that the traditional business of the company will not be put at risk.
Likewise, Roa pointed out that the strategy changes are aimed at accelerating the incorporation of renewable energies into Colombia’s energy transition, as the government has been announcing since the beginning of its term. The goal is to decarbonize energy, focusing on greater gas sufficiency and profitability.
Roa Defends His Management
“You have before you a president whom many said ‘has no idea about oil or gas,’ but who has in his DNA and essence the true commitment to a country’s transition to clean and green energy without destroying the value of the traditional business,” Roa argued in his speech.
It’s worth noting that Ricardo Roa was the campaign manager for Gustavo Petro’s presidential campaign in 2022. Revelations by the president’s son, Nicolas Petro, about alleged drug money that had been diverted to his father’s campaign, raised questions about the current president of Colombia’s largest company.
Progress and Pending Tasks
The International Energy Agency presented its report on Colombia, acknowledging the country’s progress “over two decades” in energy transition. According to the report, Colombia has abundant sources of renewable energy, with a high share of decarbonized electricity (72% of the supply comes from hydroelectric plants). These figures place the country among those that consume the most energy from natural sources, according to the OECD.
However, the same report calls on the Colombian government to prioritize supply security in its plans for energy transition. This is because the high dependence on water resources for electricity generation puts the supply at risk during periods of severe drought, such as in 2023 due to the El Niño phenomenon.
“Continuous attention is required to ensure the resilience of the country’s electricity and natural gas/oil supplies, even during periods of seasonal droughts and in remote areas. Colombia’s hydroelectric energy has low runoff storage capacity but good flexibility to balance a higher proportion of variable renewable energies. There is high interannual variability due to extreme weather events (droughts or rainfall). Ensuring availability with sufficient dispatchable capacity is necessary,” notes the report from the International Energy Agency.