Who are Pacific Ruibales Energy?
Pacific Rubiales Energy (PRE) is the largest independent oil and gas exploration and production company in Colombia. PRE’s biggest oil production asset is located in the municipality of Puerto Gaitán.
What was the challenge?
Puerto Gaitán has historically been considered a difficult territory due to disputes between guerrillas and paramilitary groups over land that has been used as base for drug trafficking. Due to the social unrest in the area, on 19 July 2011, the company experienced its first blockade, forcing it to cease production to ensure workers’ safety.
Although labour negotiations were conducted under the supervision of the Ministry of Social Protection (now the Ministry of Labour), PRE acted as a guarantor to a government-promoted dialogue committee as a result of the blockades. The committee addressed the claims against the Company by contractors, their employees and the USO union, which represents these employees.
A Labour Committee of 15 local community-identified and appointed leaders was created. It was responsible for negotiating agreements with representatives of PRE and for directly discussing matters with the communities. Government officials also participated, including the local mayor who helped set up the committee.
What were the outcomes?
PRE’s participation in the negotiations underlined the company’s commitment to supply chain accountability and control procedures, including compliance with union-related rights and responsibilities. It also enabled the company to strengthen its long-term social licence to operate by focusing on peace and development, while minimizing negative effects on the community.
In September 2011, a Social Agreement was signed. The agreement, which established a new Corporate Social Responsibility Policy for PRE, aimed to address all the concerns presented by the community. An agenda was then set for each of the roundtables, with the intention of building consensus within the community and creating a long-term action plan to address the issues. The agreement consisted of 91 commitments (the company is responsible for 65 of them and the community for 26) including actions and guidelines on social, environmental, indigenous, cultural, commercial and labour matters. These are being executed cooperatively by all levels of government, the local community, and the company.