Latin American Statement: #GlobalFrackdown

Fracking will have disastrous consequences for the environment, the population and the energetic sustainability of Latin America and this development cannot be allowed.

In connection with the World Day against Fracking (Global Frackdown) Latin-American civil society organizations have pointed at the irreversible impacts of fracking at the territories and populations of these regions by the exploitation of hydrocarbons.

Therefore these organizations demand that the Latin-American governments prevent the development of fracking at their territories and demonstrate in this way their commitment to the protection of environment, the guarantee of human rights, the fight against climate changes and the energetic sustainability of the region.

Civil society organizations highlight the existence of sustainable alternative energy sources that are cheaper and more efficient. At the same time these alternatives fully respect communities which are developing them. Therefore these alternative energy sources have to be promoted and stimulated by states themselves to assure future energy and environmental sustainability.

According to the information of the U.S. Energy Information Administration Latin America countries rely on the perspective resources of shale hydrocarbons in their territories. [1] It is the case of Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile where the hydraulic fracturation technology (fracking) has been developed at different levels. For example, in Argentina there has been a huge development of such projects, while other countries like Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia and Brazil are currently in the phase of exploration and they will attempt to develop this technology in the next years.

By fracking there is an injection of mixture of water, sand and chemical products to the subsoil by creating such pressures that cause the breakage of shale whose pores are filled with gas and oil. For this process, it is necessary to carry out a vertical perforation to reach such depth in which these geological formations can be found (between one and five kilometres) and then a series of horizontal perforations of extension of 1 to 5 km is needed.

This technology will bring, as it has already been demonstrated in the USA, serious impacts on the environment, health and life quality of population that are already extremely punished. Due to its great complexity, fracking implies a series of damages, whereas their majority is inevitable and irreversible. These damages include following points:

- Intensive pollution of water. One well of fracking requires between 9 and 29 million litres of water that is not useable again, mainly with regard to 300,000 litres of chemicals that are added during the process as well as with regard to heavy and radioactive metals in the subsoil. The liquid used for perforation processes is later extravasated to the underground and superficial water contaminating it and leaving population without drinkable water. [2]

- It is supposed that fracking has serious consequences to the health. [3] Scientific studies realized in the United States show that 75 % of the chemicals used in the perforation liquid directly affect skin, eyes, respiratory and gastrointestinal system; 40-50 % of these chemicals concern the nervous, immunological, cardiovascular system and the kidneys; whereas 37 % affect the endocrine system and 25% provoke cancer and different cells mutations. [4]

- Fracking contributes to climate changes. Despite indications of oil companies and some governments of the region, gas exploitation by fracking is not a suitable option for the fight against climate changes. Up to 8 per cent of produced natural gas (methane) escapes directly to the atmosphere during the fracking processes, whereas this gas has a heating potential 25 times higher than carbon dioxide. Due to this fact, in 20 years the contribution of gas extracted by fracking to climate changes will be by 20 % stronger than that of coal. [5]

- The reinjection of residual water to subsoil is directly connected with the seismic instability and earthquakes, which have reached the magnitude of 5.7 °. This is extremely serious consequence, since it puts on risk populations and infrastructure of those regions where these earthquakes take place. [6]

- All these consequences and impacts led to violations of human rights, rights that the Latin-American states have to promote, respect, protect and guarantee, as well as they have to prevent violations of these rights. Furthermore, they violate right of every person to drinkable water, healthy environment, health, nutrition, housing, as well as they violate other economic, social and cultural rights, labour, civil and political laws such as the right to information access, to free consent and to participation.

- Finally, the exploitation of hydrocarbons by fracking is not a sustainable energetic option.  High rates of decline of the wells (between 29 and 52 % per year), insufficient recovery of present hydrocarbons in deposits (between 4.7 and 10 %) and high costs that these technology involves, make it unviable for energy production in medium and long term. [7]

For all these reasons, we, the signatory organizations, demand from the governments of Latin-American countries following:

- We demand that Latin-American governments give up fracking in their territories and assure protection of water resources and population health.

- We demand that our states prepare and spread impartial information about characteristics of the processes, volumes and of origin of residual water and substances used for fracking as well as about their impacts on populations and environment in long term horizon in order to provide guarantee of rights for present and future generations.

- We highlight that populations and local governments have a full right to deny the activities of fracking that could affect their environment.

- We demand implementation of such public policies that would allow energetic transition towards really sustainable energy sources in full respect of human rights, which would assure future energetic reserves.

- We urge the states to provide guarantee that the energy policies of the region respect human rights, provide environmental and social protection and contribute to the fight against the climate change.

If you want to propose any additions to this position paper, please, contact us at

Source: Alianza Mexicana contra el Fracking