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Colombia’s Halt to New Oil Contracts ‘Absolutely Urgent’ – Bloomberg

Irene Vélez,Mines Minister, in Davos (Suiza)
Irene Vélez,Mines Minister, in Davos (Suiza) (WEF)

Patricia Laya, Bloomberg News

EnergiesNet.com 01 20 2023

Colombia’s Energy and Mines Minister Irene Velez said that the government’s decision not to award new oil and gas exploration contracts was “absolutely urgent” and needs “immediate action.”

Speaking in a panel on energy transition from the World Economic Forum at Davos, Velez doubled down on President Gustavo Petro’s campaign promise to transition the country away from fossil fuels. Her remarks signal a stark difference to comments by Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo, who has said Colombia is open to the possibility of new contracts given its high fiscal revenue dependence from fossil fuels.

“We have decided not to award new oil and gas exploration contracts, and while that has been very controversial, it’s a clear sign of our commitment in the fight against climate change,” Velez said in a panel alongside the CEOs of Repsol and Honeywell International. “This decision is absolutely urgent and needs immediate action.”

Velez said the administration’s decision to halt new exploration required investment in other sectors, such as agriculture and tourism, to “leave behind coal and hydrocarbons while surviving as a nation.”

While new exploration won’t be allowed, Petro has said oil, gas and coal producers with existing contracts could “carry on normally.” Still, the government, which owns 88.5% of state oil company Ecopetrol SA, has spooked investors with its plans to transition toward renewables. 

Also in Davos, Petro said the world needs to have an agreement to move away from fossil fuels amid the climate crisis in what he called “decarbonized capitalism.”

That would mean a climate agreement that seeks “to reduce the consumption of coal, oil and gas to zero in the short term,” he said.

–With assistance from Oscar Medina.

bloomberg.com 01 19 2023

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