The president of Colombia's Ecopetrol, Javier Genaro Gutiérrez, announced Sept. 24 that the state oil company will process licenses for the use of fracking technology. Gutiérrez upheld Texas as an example of successful fracking, saying, "I invite you to see the fracking tower next to a hospital for the elderly" in the US state. In the Ronda Colombia 2014, the country's latest round of auctioning oil leases on public lands, 19 of the 98 bids sold were for the development of fracking sites. In March, a law was passed to expedite the process for allowing "non-conventional" drilling sites. Ecopetrol in a partnership with Canadian-based Talisman Energy acquired the country's two largest natural gas fields from BP in 2010.
Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is the shooting of huge amounts of water and chemicals at high pressures to fissure rocks and release trapped natural gas. Opponents point out that fracking can cause both the contamination of ground water and huge greenhouse gas emissions. Chemicals used to solidify the fissures can seep into the underground water wells while leaking methane from gas wells is significantly more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. In 2012, then Environmental Minister Juan Gabriel Uribe warned of the risks associated with fracking and called for serious environmental precautions to be taken if the industry arrives more heavily in Colombia (Colombia Reports, Sept. 25; EFE, Sept. 24)