Oil industry denies responsibility for drought in eastern Colombia

Colombia’s oil sector is not responsible for the severe drought blamed for the death of more than 20,000 animals in the eastern province of Casanare, the trade group representing the industry said recently.

“Oil operations are not creating the drought. We consume water, of course, but in very low quantities,” ACP President Alejandro Martinez Villegas said at a conference on the drought.

Scholars and scientists invited to the event agreed that the problem was due more to climatic phenomena, including the lack of rainfall, than human activity.

The Colombian government’s IGAC institute listed “five sins” that may be responsible for the drought: the spread of crops to the paramo (moorland) region of Cocuy, excessive ranching, the soil’s limited water-holding capacity, oil activity and low soil productivity.

Casanare is part of a region that experiences extreme climates, flooding and drought, which this year has been exacerbated by a prolonged dry season, the director of the Bogota-based National University of Colombia’s meteorology group, Gerardo Montoya, said.

In March 2014, the “month that precedes the rains,” the amount of rainfall was just 4 percent of the monthly average, according to Montoya’s figures.

Climate change “will harshly affect a region (Casanare) that is on red alert due to its natural tendency to extreme rainfall fluctuations,” Brigitte Baptiste, director of the Colombian government’s prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute, said in an editorial published Monday.

“I have no doubt that oil, agroindustry and the new cattle ranchers, even as they’ve contributed to the regional and national economy, have been causing – in a synergic action stemming from poor planning – a vast regional environmental disaster. But let’s not compare apples and oranges,” she added.

Source | EFE