BP in Colombia

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BP Exploration Company Colombia (BPXC) is the British-based company’s Colombian company. Their operations are based in the province of Casanare, in eastern Colombia, with headquarters in Bogotá. Cusiana and Cupiagua make up most of Colombia’s oil field. BP has two major processing installations built these two locations and a network of flow lines was put into place to connect the wells with the facilities. Crude oil is exported via an 871km pipeline that stretches from Casanare to the Caribbean port of Coveñas.

At BP’s sites, they have drilled over 125 wells in rugged terrain and complex geology to depths of over 15,000 feet. The production from these field peaked in 1999 when they averaged 434,000 barrels of oil a day.

BPXC employs 480 people and 98.5% of them are native Colombians. BPXC is partners with Ecopetrol, Colombia’s state oil firm. [1]

April 2002: BP and the Casanare Project, Colombia
One of the most sensitive issues for BP was its involvement in Colombia, where it was accused of collaborating with brutal local security forces. BP produces 40% of the Colombia’s oil from their plants in Cusiana and Cupiaga.
BP has built voluntary principles into their contracts with private security providers and says that they have trying to ensure that they are properly implemented. BP claims to have encouraged and supported the government’s initiatives to strengthen the judicial system and the rule of law by supporting a “house of justice and peace” which is currently under construction in the area. [2]

Corporate Responsibility

The global oil giant, BP, has reached a multi-million pound out-of-court settlement with a group of Colombian farmers after they brought a legal action against the company in Britain.

They alleged that Exploration Company (Colombia) "benefited from harassment and intimidation meted out by Colombian paramilitaries employed by the government" to guard a 450-kilometre long pipeline from the Cusiana-Cupiagua oilfields. "Marta Hinestroza, one of the farmers' lawyers, fled Colombia for Britain when she discovered that her name was on a paramilitary hit list. In November 2002, the Home Office granted Ms Hinestroza political asylum after she told of the threats she faced while working in the region," The Independent reports. [3]

May 2008: Oil Firms to Pay $423 million to settle water lawsuit.
BP, along with other oil companies, is going to pay to settle lawsuit brought by hundreds of public water suppliers. [4]


March 2005: “Pumping Poverty- Britain’s Department for International Development and the Oil Industry”
The author discusses the problems with BP’s Ocensa pipeline, especially the fact that is protected by a designated army that is financed through a $1 per barrel “war tax”. [5]

April 2004: Looking at the Principles Behind the Practices: BP Operations in Casanare Department, Colombia
This report synthesizes recurring observations into five thematic principles of operation: 1. being part of the community is fundamental to successful operation in conflict contexts; 2. political and economic leverage should go beyond mitigating negative impacts; 3. “win-win” options is key for both the company and the local communities; 4. sustainable living conditions for when the company leaves, must be created early in operations; 5. stakeholder focused management systems are the key to the business’ success. [6]

Human Rights

January 22, 2007: UN Delegate of Companies and Human Rights visits the Colombian Petroleum Zone.
John Ruggie, the UN representative, visited to observe the formation of militaries on fundamental guaranteed matters. Ruggie, visited the Center for Instruction and Training of the 16th Colombian Army Brigade, in Yopal the capital of Casanare. [7]

July 22, 2006: BP Pays out Millions to Colombian Farmers
A group of Colombian farmers has won a multimillion pound settlement from BP after the oil and gas company was accused of benefiting from a regime of terror carried out by the Colombian government paramilitaries to protect their 800km pipeline. The plaintiffs claim that they and their family members, who worked on the 52 farms affected by the development, were forced to live in destitution in the surrounding towns. They also allege hat BP benefited from the harassment and intimidation by the Colombian paramilitaries that were employed by the government to guard the pipeline.
The out of court settlement requires BP to set up a trust fund to pay the compensation and to pay for workshops to help the farmers cope with environmental management, business development and other support requested by the plaintiffs.
“A joint statement, issued by BP Exploration Company (Colombia) Limited and the British lawyers acting for the farmers, said: ‘The Colombian farmers group are pleased to say that after a mediation process which took place in Bogotá in June 2006 at the joint initiative of the parties, an amicable settlement of the dispute in relation to the Ocensa pipeline has been reached, with no admissions of liability.’” [8]

July 17, 2006: BP Reaches Agreement with Colombian Farmers
Farmers had threaten to pursuit a lawsuit in England against BP, reflecting the trend among communities affected by oil developments to take disputes to western oil companies’ country of origin where the media attention is greater. Part of the agreement, is that BP will establish an “Environmental and Social Improvement Trust Fund.” [9]

April 20, 2004: Colombia, A Laboratory of War: Repression and Violence in Arauca
The author discusses many of the problems within the area of Arauca and includes the problems of BP’s presence there. [10]


June 30, 2007 Witnesses from Colombia’s social movements join together for a campaign to spread the word on how human rights and the environment are affected by oil corporations’ thirst for profits. BP operates Colombia’s second most productive oilfields and in 2006 they reaped profits of $347 million dollars. However, BP’s workers cannot organize a trade union and the surrounding environment has been ruined and communities live under the current reign of paramilitary terror. [11]

Contact Information

BP Exploration Company (Colombia) Ltd.
Carrera 9A No. 99 – 02, 9th Floor
Bogotá, Colombia
Tel: +571-628-4000 or +571-618-2777
Fax: +571-611-1127 or +571-628-4077

External links