Occidental Petroleum (OXY) - Environmental and Culural Destruction
Occidental Petroleum (OXY) an oil and gas company from California, signed a contract with
Colombia’s national oil company EcoPetrol in 1983 to gain exploration and production rights
over the area called Caño Limon in Arauca. The contract was signed just seven years after the
Colombian court had declared the area of Laguna Lipa a protected natural reserve zone, and
Caño Limon lies within this zone. Laguna Lipa is a fragile zone made up of estuaries, forests,
rivers, and lakes with an immense amount of biodiversity, boasting many different types of
animals and plants. In addition to its ecological importance, Laguna Lipa was also an important
cultural heritage site for many Indigenous communities such as the Sikuani, Macaguán, Betoy,
Hitnu and U’wa. Since the contract was signed in 1983 Oxy has extracted more than 1.2 billion
barrels of oil from Laguna Lipa.
Due to the fact that the Caño Limon concession was part of the Laguna Lipa sanctuary, it was
opposed by communities within Arauca because of the potential threats it could pose to the
ecosystem and indigenous livelihoods, as well as the impact that the petroleum multinational
could have on the communities in Arauca.
Soon after OXY began activities in Caño Limon, many of these fears were realized.