Despite Peace Talks, Colombia’s Oil Industry Increasingly Under Attack

Despite Peace Talks, Colombia’s Oil Industry Increasingly Under Attack

With peace talks engaged for the first time in a decade, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) at its weakest point in history, Colombia’s once-stifled oil and mining sectors have taken off, enabling oil production to reach a record of 1 million barrels per day in late-December. Yet the extractive industry has found itself increasingly targeted by the FARC and other rebels who are seeking to force concessions from the government, putting foreign investment, now at all-time highs, at risk.

The FARC are suspected in the bombing of a gas pipeline in La Guajira in Northeastern Colombia on Friday. The attack came days after the leftist rebel group destroyed sections of two oil pipelines and planted a bomb on a railway owned by the country's largest coal exporter, Cerrejón, a joint venture of BHP Billiton, Xstrata and Anglo American.

The bombings coincide with the end of a unilateral cease-fire declared by the FARC two months ago, at the start of peace talks with the administration of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Observers are optimistic that the talks, which are ongoing in Havana, Cuba, could end the longest-running conflict in Latin America -- and provide some relief for the country's investors.

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