June 3, 2016 / 3:15 PM / 3 years ago

Chile environmental watchdog probes GeoPark for illegal fracking

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile’s SMA environmental regulator said on Friday it was investigating Latin America-focused oil and gas explorer GeoPark Ltd for alleged violations, including fracking activities without having the necessary permits.

Inspections in 2014 and 2015 of GeoPark’s hydrocarbon project in the Fell block, located in the southern Magallanes region, detected “hydraulic fracturing activities in different wells, without the environmental permits required by law for this type of activity,” the regulator said.

GeoPark is also accused of having faulty systems in place for avoiding soil erosion and managing spills of hazardous materials, and of damaging archaeological findings.

“We will fully cooperate with Chile’s SMA environmental regulator and are confident that all of our drilling activities in the region are fully compliant with the relevant laws and regulations,” GeoPark said in an emailed statement.

“We look forward to presenting our compliance plan to the SMA in the coming days and quickly resolving this matter,” the company added.

GeoPark has 10 days to present a compliance plan to the SMA or 15 days to present a legal defense.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Alan Crosby

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