Colombia’s house of representatives approved as part of its National Development Plan last week, authorization for the Ministry of Mines & Energy to study the possibility of introducing Hydraulic Fracturing, nicknamed “Fracking,” in Colombia.
The unconventional petroleum and gas extraction method involves injecting water, sand and surfactants (such as detergent) into deep underground shale rock formations to release petroleum and gas trapped within the mineral formations.
“MinEnergía will study the viability of the exploration and production of unconventional deposits. To do this, it will form an independent and multidisciplinary committee of experts that will evaluate and give recommendations. Additionally, the ANH (National Hydrocarbons Agency) will carry out studies led by independent experts to update, deepen and complement the technical knowledge of the exploration and production of these resources, as well as the environmental and social impacts associated with the development of this activity, says the bill.
The proposed legislation mandates that the ANH establishes exploration zones, and ministries of Energy and Environment will update as necessary technical and environmental regulation covering any such exploration and production.
Hydraulic Fracturing is controversial in Colombia, even though to date there has been no hydraulic fracturing in Colombia. During the legislative session, Liberal Party representative Julián Peinado falsely charged that “Fracking caused earthquakes in 8 different states in the United States and has the ability to damage tectonic plates, or to “activate” them. The politician went on to claim that fracking is “toxic chemicals, 75%” attributing his claim to the “Massachusetts Association of Physicians” or as Peinado claimed, the “Asociación de Médicos de Massachusetts.” Even though the US state of Massachusetts “Has no natural gas reserves or production,” according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Peinado’s motion to strike the Fracking provision from the bill was defeated 84 to 25. The bill now goes to the Colombian Senate.
Finance Colombia could not successfully verify the existence of a “Massachusetts Association of Physicians” though there is a Massachusetts Medical Society and a Massachusetts Association of Physician Assistants.
Colombian publication El Colombiano was referred to as a source for this reporting.