By OGJ editors
WASHINGTON, DC, July 29 -- US lawmakers declined to include in final antiterrorism legislation a controversial Senate proposal directed at Occidental Petroleum Corp.'s holdings in Colombia.
President George W. Bush is expected this week to sign HR 4775, an emergency spending bill designed to combat terrorism aimed at US interests.
An earlier Senate version of the bill sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) would have provided $3.5 million in US aid to Colombia specifically for improving the security of the Caño Limon export pipeline. But the money was contingent on written approval by Oxy and its partner, Repsol-YPF SA, that the two companies would reimburse the US government for helping to protect shipments (OGJ, June 17, p34).
The Colombian government owns 50% of the 483-mile pipeline that connects the Caño Limon area fields to an export terminal on the Caribbean Sea; Oxy holds 44%, and Respol-YPF the remaining 6%.
Congress ultimately dropped the plan, reverting to a House version a proposal that earmarks $6 million to the Colombian military for pipeline protection but does not require Oxy or Respol-YPF to pledge funds.
Oxy strenuously objected to the Senate version, saying it could set "dangerous" public policy precedents. Among the arguments the company made was that the provision "appears to cast the US armed forces, who would conduct the training of selected Colombian military detachments, into the role of mercenaries that are for hire to private companies—including non-US multinationals."
A Leahy spokesman said the provision was needed to protect "taxpayers from having to pay security for a private oil company."