Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie

Talisman is simply changing hands

21 January 2015

We learned in December 2014 that the multinational Talisman, one of Canada's largest independent corporations, was bought by Spanish company Repsol in exchange for US$13 billion. Talisman is an oil and gas exploration and production company, operating at the international level since 1992. The company is known in Quebec for participating in shale gas projects, and has been highly criticized for its operations in Sudan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, Iraq and Algeria, to name just a few. In 2013, the company held interests in up to 4.2 million hectares of land in Colombia, as well as rights of exploitation and exploration in heavily militarized regions where private interests have supremacy over the fundamental rights of concerned communities.

It should be underlined that Talisman holds 45% of the production rights in an oil field located in the municipality of Acacias, in the department of Meta. This oil field is the largest exploration project Colombia has seen in recent years. The multinational has also been carrying out seismic exploration in the same department, in partnership with Pacific Rubiales (the companies each hold 50% of the project).

Above all, in 2011 Talisman acquired a substantial amount of the assets owned by the British Petroleum Exploration Company. The British group had sold its entire Colombian subsidiary to a consortium consisting of 51% ownership by Colombian oil company Ecopetrol and 49% by Talisman (a Canadian oil company at the time). With this agreement, both multinationals now own, under the name Equión Energia Ltd, the two largest natural gas fields in the country, located mainly in the Casanare department. These giants are planning to exploit the territory via fracking, which uses phenomenal amounts of water, even though Casanare suffered a serious water shortage at the start of 2014.

It is important to remember that the British Petroleum Exploration Company, whose assets are now in large part owned by Talisman, is subject to a lawsuit before British courts, brought in October 2014, for its activities related to the construction of the Ocensa pipeline in Colombia. The company is accused of causing severe environmental damage, harming the lives of local communities. Since 1994, Enbridge, another Canadian oil and gas company, has owned 25% of the shares of the Ocensa pipeline. This is one of the most Canadian investments in Colombia. Enbridge has hired a British military group (Defense Systems Colombia) to protect its installations. Ocensa, the largest pipeline in Colombia, has 17 military bases along its path and 1,400 soldiers assigned to its protection; the pipeline project has often resulted in severe repression and has led to political, social and economic violence.

Besides the political violence created by the security measures protecting the pipeline, its construction has destroyed the livelihood of more than 350 peasants in the region, who were forced to abandon their contaminated land. At 800 km long, the pipeline carries 500,000 barrels of oil per day – oil extracted by Talisman. Even if Talisman sold in December 2013, 12.5% of its interests on the Ocensa pipeline, the company still owns transportation rights in the pipeline.

And we’re only talking about Talisman's activities in Colombia…

Talisman has now been acquired by Spanish multinational Repsol, which has its own extensive track-record in Colombia: in 2007, their activities were condemned by the Colombian session of the Permanent People’s Court. Regardless of the home-countries of these multinationals, though, communities affected by their activities, both here in Colombia and elsewhere, will continue to mobilize.