Accord 4 of May 4 2012, issued by the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH), amended the award of contracts for oil and gas areas in Colombia (for further details please see "ANH issues new regulation for contracting of oil and gas blocks").

Chapter 2 of the accord deals with oil and gas areas. The ANH is responsible for the definition, determination and extent of the areas, in accordance with the following criteria:

  • nature;
  • geographical location;
  • geological, environmental or social characteristics;
  • technical information available about the sub-soil;
  • type of field to explore and exploit;
  • exploratory coverage required;
  • type of contract or the contract execution stage; and
  • reasons of energy policy, national security or public order.

As a result, the ANH must prepare and regularly update the Land Map, which is intended to show the current status of the Colombian oil and gas areas through by classifying them into the following categories:

  • technical evaluation areas;
  • exploration areas;
  • productive areas;
  • reserved areas; and
  • free areas.

In addition to any restrictions on areas, the Land Map should clearly identify reservations or excluded, restricted or protected areas, as set by the competent authority, as well as areas where there are organised communities or ethnic groups.

In addition, the bidders or contractors have two particular duties. The first applies when part or the whole area of interest extends into reserved, excluded or restricted areas, according to a decision of the competent authority. In this case, the bidder or contractor must comply timely, effectively and efficiently with the conditions and rules specified by the applicable legal regime or by the contract.

The second is the obligation of the bidder or contractor to respect the rights of communities or ethnic groups as set by international or national law, particularly:

  • Articles 7 and 330 of the National Constitution of Colombia, on the recognition and protection of ethnic and cultural diversity and indigenous territories, respectively;
  • International Labour Organisation Convention 169 on the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, approved by Law 21/1991;
  • Law 70/1993 on African descendant communities;
  • Law 99/1993 on environment regulation; and
  • Decree 1320/1998 on previous consultations with indigenous and African descendant communities for the exploitation of natural resources within their territories.

For further information on this topic please contact Gabriela Mancero Bucheli at Peña Mancero by telephone (+57 (1) 640 1355) or email ([email protected]).