ExxonMobil could lose $53 million if Colombia bans fracking

The leftist government of Gustavo Petro continues to move forward with making hydraulic fracturing illegal, with the objective of "protecting the environment."

The U.S. oil company ExxonMobil Corporation is studying ways to recover its investment in a fracking pilot project in Colombia after the Latin American country has continued to make progress in banning this practice. This decision, promoted by the leftist government of Gustavo Petro, has generated conflict in Colombia.

ExxonMobil invested $53 million in this pilot project, called Platero, after the Colombian authorities awarded it in 2021. The oil company's spokeswoman Michelle Gray, told Reuters that "We will continue to have constructive dialogue with the Colombian government on a comprehensive assessment of our unconventional investments." Another source said that "reviewing the mechanisms to reach a solution regarding the investments."

Colombia's National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) stated that ExxonMobil has terminated, suspended or liquidated eight exploration and production contracts in Colombia, while confirming that "the procedure is being studied" so that the oil company does not execute the Platero pilot project.

In mid-April, the Colombian Senate approved a bill to ban fracking, among other practices, in order to "protect the environment and the health of Colombians," according to the Minister of Environment and Development, Susana Muhamad. The law is expected to be signed by Congress in the coming months. Making hydraulic fracturing illegal was one of the promises made by President Gustavo Petro during his campaign for the elections held in May 2022.