Colombian Government Will Increase Measures to Protect Oil Companies

By Dialogo
August 31, 2011

Colombia will increase measures to protect the oil companies that operate in the country, where they are a target for frequent attacks by leftist guerrillas, President Juan Manuel Santos, who aims for that sector to be a motor of development, announced on August 29.

Following a security council meeting in the town of San Vicente del Caguan, in the department of Caqueta (in southern Colombia), Santos said that the meeting explored “efficient mechanisms for protecting the oil companies and at the same time maintaining the offensive capability of our Government forces.”

Santos justified the need to increase security in the sector by highlighting the “vertiginous” growth of petroleum exploration in the country, currently underway across 38 million hectares.

“This requires the presence of Government forces, the presence of the Army, and immediately, the companies demand that service. This is logical and natural and part of the state’s responsibility,” Santos specified, according to a statement issued by the presidential press service.

Previously, on August 10, Santos denounced attempts by the guerrillas to finance themselves by threatening oil interests.

“We’re aware of that problem, and we’re engaged in ongoing coordination with the petroleum sector (…) in order to offer them every guarantee and complete security so that they can operate in our territory without restriction,” the president said on that occasion.

In June, Alejandro Martínez, the president of the private Colombian Petroleum Association (Asociación Colombiana de Petróleo, ACP), which brings together companies producing crude in Colombia, also denounced a rise in kidnappings and extortionate threats targeting workers in the sector over the last two years.

In recent months, there has been an increase in violent actions by guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) targeting the oil industry.

Santos’s administration proposes to strongly encourage the petroleum sector, as one of the pillars of the country’s socio-economic development, and toward that end, it has set a production goal of 1.15 million barrels a day by the end of Santos’s term in 2014.