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Sinochem Oil Workers Taken Hostage As Protests In Colombia Rage On

Workers from Sinochem Group have been taken hostage by Colombians protesting poor road conditions, local media have reported.

 At least one policeman and a civilian are dead.

The unrest between protests and the police started after a group of Colombian protestors broke into an oilfield owned by Emerald Energy—a subsidiary of Sinochem Group, also known as the China National Chemical Corporation. The oilfield is located in southern Colombia in the province of Caqueta.

Sinochem Group is an integrated operator in the oil and chemical industry. The protestors have also set oil installations on fire.

Social media videos have shown the protestors placing police offers in a truck on Thursday before they were driven away. The protests were triggered by the poor conditions of the roads, despite previous assurances from the government and Emerald Energy that road repairs would be completed.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro accused the protestors of wanting "to destroy this government and plunge Colombia into war."

Colombia is staring down the reality of declining crude oil production, in part due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but largely due to guerilla groups attacking key oil infrastructure. Colombia's crude oil production has fallen from 0.808 million bpd in 2020, to .76 million last year, according to EIA data. But that's just the most recent dropoff. In 2019, OPEC's MOMR lists Colombia's average production as 0.9 million bpd.

What's more, at the current rate of production, Colombia is seeing a rapid decline in investments in its oil industry, with some analysts suggesting that at the current rate, Colombia currently has enough crude oil reserves for another five or six years, some have estimated. And Colombia's President Petro last year pledged to end all new oil exploration.

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Meanwhile, President Petro, who was inaugurated last August, raised taxes on Colombia's oil industry, which has yet to recover from the pandemic. 

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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