Oil contracts threaten life in  Amazon indigenous land reserves

In the recent newsletter:  Oil in the Amazon: Are Indigenous Peoples in Danger? (Petróleo en la amazonía: ¿Pueblos indígenas en peligro?) the organization Ambiente y Sociedad alerted to 37 oil contracts that overlap with 81 indigenous land reserves, mostly in the departments of Putumayo and Caquetá. It also alerted to 26 indigenous reserves with areas that are being auctioned by the National Hydrocarbon Agency (ANH, in Spanish) for oil exploration and operations.

 See complete map of overlaps here.


The information:

According to The Word Factbook, Colombia is 22nd in the world for oil production, with 853,600 barrels of oil per day; and is ranked 40th for consumption, with 333,000 barrels per day. Colombia is 36th for oil reserves with 1,665,000,000 barrels. Of its 23 existing sedimentary basins, seven are producing oil.

A sedimentary basin is a depression (or basin shape) in the earth’s crust, formed by the tectonic activity of the plates where sediment has accumulated. If the rocks present in the basin have organic material and this is combined with the appropriate conditions for depth and pressure, hydrocarbons can be created in the basin.

Basin Area (Km2) Departments Types of Production
Llanos Orientales (Eastern Plains) 225,603 Arauca, Casanare, Meta, Vichada, and Cesar Oil and Natural Gas
Caguán – Putumayo 110,304 Putumayo, Caquetá, Cauca, and Nariño Oil
Cordillera Oriental (Eastern Range) 71,766 Boyacá and Casanare Oil
Guajira and Guajira Offshore 66,639 Guajira Natural Gas
Valle Inferior del Magdalena– VIM (Magdalena Lower Valley )  38,017 Bolívar, Sucre, Córdoba, and Magdalena Oil
Valle Medio del Magdalena– VMM (Magdalena Middle Valley) 32,949 Antioquia, Cesar, Santander, Boyacá, and Cundinamarca Oil
Valle Superior del Magdalena– VSM (Magdalena Upper Valley) 21,513 Tolima, Huila, and Cundinamarca Oil
Catatumbo 7,715 Norte de Santander Oil


Oil in the Amazon

The Caguán-Putumayo basin produces 2.9% of the country’s total crude, and based on the oil reserve data for this basin, it is one of the country’s most attractive basins. According to ECOPETROL, the reserve has around 500 million barrels; according to the ANH, it has close to 3 billion barrels. To date, the Amazon region has 53 contracts for technical studies of the area (TEA, in Spanish) and to explore and extract oil, which is being performed by 16 national and international companies. Additionally, there areas that have been defined as not assigned. These are available for award to the companies that request them and fulfill the processes to explore and/or extract oil.

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