Columbia: No Petroleum Extraction in Insular Paradise

Archipelago in the sea Archipelago to be preserved

Oct 7, 2011

“I want everybody to know you may rest assured there will be no petroleum extraction in our archipelago whatsoever”, Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos officially announced in his speech on 01 October 2011 on the Island of San Andrés. “In agreement with the Ministry of Environment we have decided against this kind of raw material extraction”, the President further explained, and instead promised the introduction of a conservation plan for protecting marine ecosystems.

“I want everybody to know you may rest assured there will be no petroleum extraction in our archipelago whatsoever”, Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos officially announced in his speech on 01 October 2011 on the Island of San Andrés. “In agreement with the Ministry of Environment we have decided against this kind of raw material extraction”, the President further explained, and instead promised the introduction of a conservation plan for protecting marine ecosystems.

Thanks to this decision, the archipelago consisting of the islands San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina has been saved from being exploited by Columbian petroleum company Ecopetrol and Spanish enterprise Repsol. This group of islands comprises the “Seaflower” biosphere reserve, and due to its biodiversity and long coral reefs it has been declared an official UNESCO reserve since 2000. Altogether, this archipelago accounts for about 70 percent of Columbia’s coral reefs.

CORALINA, a regional association of San Andrés and Santa Catalina, has sued public authorities for issuing development licenses to the petroleum companies. In cooperation with Rainforest Rescue, CORALINA internationally exposed these development plans to the broad public and increased political pressure. As a result, we received official statements of both criticised companies, promising to accept all political decisions and environmental studies.

Once environmental impact studies clearly demonstrated the devastating effect of petroleum extraction to marine environment that would have to be expected, the government decided to stop the planned petroleum extraction. Furthermore, President Santos mentioned that after receiving a great number of protest letters, he realized how concerned the international community has grown about this ecosystem.

Let us hope the Columbian government will stick to its decision and permanently protect this group of islands from any harmful impact. Preserving this ecosystem will also help to preserve Columbia’s natural riches.

On behalf of CORALINA and all inhabitants of the archipelago, Rainforest Rescue would like to thank all supporters of this protest campaign for having helped to save this unique natural treasure from destruction.