Sunday, August 10, 2014

Colombia: Tibu Yields 1,800 BPD, Yet President Santos Has Never Stopped Peace Talks...Why Not?

According to The Latin American Tribune, Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol suspended operations at its onshore field in Tibu, in the northeastern province of Norte de Santander, following two attacks on its infrastructure, the company announced Saturday (August 9).

The Tibu yields approximately 1,800 barrels of oil per day, Ecopetrol said in a statement.

According to the company, the first attack was launched around 1640 hours local time on Friday (August 8) at the Tibu-50 well, in an area “where wells were being overhauled by the contracting company Key Energy.”

The second attack occurred almost an hour later “when armed men arrived at the M-24 station and detonated explosives in the water-injection plant and in the fluid-treatment area.”

“Ecopetrol slams attacks on oil infrastructure in the Ecopetrol’s Tibu field,” the company said in a communiqué, adding that those attacks “put the lives of workers and nearby communities at risk.”

To deal with the situation, “the company activated its contingency plan” in the region where Tibu is located, an area with a significant presence of both the FARC and the ELN.

As a preventive effort, Ecopetrol suspended activities in that field “temporarily, until workers’ safety can be guaranteed” by security forces, which on Friday strengthened their guard in the area.

COMMENT: What if President Santos, who was recently re-elected, woke up one morning and suddenly decided that he refused to proceed with simultaneous peace negotiations with the ELN and the FARC, now underway since 2012, WITHOUT a tri-lateral cease-fire?

Very often the options available to us are ever-present, yet we simply overlook them or exclude them out of hand. What a pity!

I have articulated since 2012 that the only reason a cease-fire was not agreed to at the outset was that because of the ELN, the FARC or both groups.

It was never "revealed to us" as to why a cease-fire was not strongly negotiated for at the outset, but now would be a productive time for all three entities to clarify the record.

Throughout my senior-level career in the State Department I can never recall any lasting peace occurring in the absence of an enforcible cease-fire on all sides of a conflict.

The National Liberation Army (ELN) is very active in Norte de Santander. In past decades, the ELN has perpetrated numerous attacks on oil infrastructure, yet the much larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has also  reeked significant damage in the countryside to the tune of  200,000 lives since 1964.