Gran Tierra understands and shares the Colombian people’s desire to protect their country’s rivers, lakes and other water resources. With that in mind, GTE is implementing stringent water protection and remediation policies, many of which exceed regulatory requirements.
GTE has concentrated its efforts on protecting and preserving water sources that supply the water needs of the different oil fields. In addition to the environmental education processes and efforts to optimize the use of the resource, GTE has developed a program to purchase strategic areas located on the banks of the supply sources of water. This voluntary activity has allowed the company to conserve more than 450 hectares in Putumayo.
A voluntary rainwater collection program at GTE’s Middle Magdalena Valley Basin Camp is an example of the company’s desire to exceed its legal obligations to protect the environment.
While there is enough groundwater to easily supply the camp, collecting rainwater for this is less impactful to the environment than drawing it from underground supplies. For 10 months of the year rain usually falls at the camp three times a week, allowing 90% of its non-drinking water needs to be met by collecting the rainwater in two large tanks during this period, minimizing the use of groundwater. The collected rainwater is then treated using a series of filters and processes to remove impurities before it is ready for use.
Water Processing and Monitoring
Gran Tierra carefully manages its wastewater, much of which is generated in the form of “produced water.” GTE’s Environmental Management Plan lays out the company’s plan to avoid potential impacts to surface water sources.
Produced water, which was generated as a byproduct of the process of extracting crude from the Los Angeles field in Colombia’s Middle Magdalena Valley, is treated using an allnatural process which relies on microorganisms to remove impurities. Depending on the need, the water is aerated which increases the supply of oxygen, causing the microorganisms to work faster, and allows greater volumes to be processed. Before it can be released, the treated water is regularly tested to ensure that it meets rigorous standards for purity.
Reinjecting produced and domestic wastewater is a practice used in multiple fields operated by GTE. During reinjection, the wastewater is treated to a standard that would allow reintroduction to surface water sources but is instead strategically pumped thousands of meters deep underground, well below subsurface water sources like aquifers, into oil producing formations that supply the company’s wells. In addition to minimizing any impact to water sources, this practice of safely discharging wastewater aids production from existing wells by increasing subsurface pressure. GTE maintains a network of piezometer monitors to ensure there is no impact to the quality of groundwater in the area. In accordance with GTE’s EMP, the company plans to design new projects in a manner to avoid any discharge into surface water courses.
GTE’s Environmental Management Plan requires visual and equipment-assisted inspections (e.g., turbidity monitors), to regularly check the water quality in the receiving rivers and lakes affected by construction activity, such as increased turbidity, smells or color changes. Inspections also include sampling of wastewater discharges and receiving water bodies adjacent to construction sites and construction camps.