Pacific Rubiales Energy (PRE), the largest independent oil and gas exploration and production company in Colombia, has adopted a Shared Value Initiative for water usage

Water shortages are a serious problem in Colombia: the water consumption of its agricultural sector is expected to double between 2008 and 2019. Oil extraction, meanwhile, produces an abundance of water, which comes to the surface with the hydrocarbons and must be separated. The water produced is usually in an unusable state, and disposing of it cheaply, efficiently and responsibly is a real business need.

Traditionally, PRE disposed of residual water through a process of “reinjection” into wells, at an average cost of 22 cents per barrel of water. The company recently developed Agrocascada, an entity to manage its water treatment process. Together with several partners, Agrocascada treats water to a standard at which it can be used safely and productively to irrigate biofuel crops around PRE’s operations.

It is estimated that water treated through the programme will cut reinjection costs by more than 20%, or $400m over the next 15 years. The social return is also expected to be significant.

As well as addressing the ongoing water shortages in the south-east plains of Colombia, Agrocascada has the potential to create an estimated 2,000 jobs. Given that most of PRE’s operations are in places of water scarcity, this initiative could be scaled to deliver benefits to other agricultural communities.

Source: Shared Value Initiative

This management briefing was published as part of knowledge exchange for upcoming Responsible Extractives Summit North America, where the likes of Shell, Conoco Phillips, Rio Tinto and Vale Global will be discussing how to collaborate and innovate to support sustainable business growth. Find out more here.

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