Colombia Union Calls for STAR Ban at Biggest Oilfield

Colombia’s USO oil workers union is demanding the country’s largest oilfield return to state-run Ecopetrol SA (ECOPETL) and rejects the use of an oil recovery technology known as STAR in the field.

The demands will be included in a list to be published in two weeks time ahead of negotiations with Ecopetrol on a new labor agreement, according to USO President Edwin Castano.

Colombia’s No. 2 producer Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp. (PREC) has said it wants to use STAR in the Rubiales field where its contract is due to expire mid-2016. A team of technicians from Ecopetrol and Pacific are assessing the thermal technology designed to increase heavy-oil recovery rates. Pacific says the technique, which heats oil in the well, is safe and effective.

A 2009-2014 labor agreement between workers and Ecopetrol is due to expire this month, the company said in a May 29 statement. Ecopetrol didn’t reply to a voice-mail seeking comment on the forthcoming labor negotiations and union demands. Pacific declined to comment on the talks.

USO will also send a letter to the Colombian environmental agency known as ANLA, citing concerns that STAR may cause water pollution and tremors, Castano said in a telephone interview today. Pacific says there is no connection between STAR and a rise in tremors in Colombia’s central Meta province.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Willis in Bogota at awillis21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Attwood at jattwood3@bloomberg.net

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