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ExxonMobil submits proposal for Colombia fracking pilot project

FILE PHOTO: An Exxon sign is seen at a gas station in the Chicago suburb of Norridge, Illinois, U.S., October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young

BOGOTA (Reuters) - ExxonMobil Corp has submitted a proposal to carry out a pilot project for hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - in Colombia, the oil company and the Andean country’s national hydrocarbons agency (ANH) said on Wednesday.

ExxonMobil applied to carry out fracking investigations in Colombia’s Valle Medio del Magdalena basin, the ANH said.

ExxonMobil confirmed in an email it had submitted a proposal to the ANH, but did not elaborate.

If the Platero investigative project is approved, ExxonMobil will join Colombia’s majority state-owned oil company, Ecopetrol, as the second company to begin a fracking pilot project in the country.

“Colombia continues progressing in making the possibilities of extracting gas and oil from non-conventional fields viable with this proposal from ExxonMobil, which has extensive experience in this type of project,” ANH President Armando Zamora said in a statement.

Following ExxonMobil’s proposal, the ANH will have until March 29 to evaluate the plan.

Development of non-conventional energy deposits - including fracking for shale gas and coal bed methane - is highly polarizing in Colombia and commercial development of such deposits is currently not permitted.

Fracking pilot projects in Colombia are intended to acquire sufficient scientific information so that decisions about the future development of non-conventional energy deposits can be made.

While energy companies have long maintained that fracking and other non-conventional hydrocarbon sources are important for Colombia’s economy and energy self-sufficiency, environmental activists warn it will damage the environment and threaten communities.

Reporting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Peter Cooney

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