Farc in Colombia land agreement

Land agreement: Farc chief negotiator Ivan Marquez

Oil companies active in Colombia will be hoping for a prolonged period without interruption to flows after the government and left-wing rebel group Farc finally reached an agreement on land reform.

The two sides have reached an accord on the economic and social development of rural areas, but have warned that nothing is actually agreed until there is agreement on all points at issue.

The equitable redistribution of land to farmers has been one of the main demands of Farc which has fought a half decade-long and bloody war with Colombia’s government.

"This agreement will be the start of a radical transformation of rural Colombia," a joint statement read, according to the BBC.

"Today we have a real opportunity to attain peace through dialogue,'' said the Colombian government's chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle.

"To support this process is to believe in Colombia.”

Talks between the pair have for the past few months been ongoing in the Cuban capital of Havana having begun in Oslo, Norway last year.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide welcomed the development on Monday, saying: "The breakthrough is a milestone in the negotiations and reveals a genuine willingness to find a peaceful solution to Latin America’s longest armed conflict.

"The conflict in Colombia has had severe humanitarian consequences for the civilian population. We are now one step closer to a solution. Norway will continue to support the negotiations for as long as this is the expressed desire of the parties."

A statement from the Norwegian foreign ministry continued: "The parties will now discuss rights and guarantees for opposition groups in Colombia – a key issue that needs to be resolved if Farc-EP is to lay down its weapons in favour of participation in the political process.

"Other issues that need to be addressed include a ceasefire, disarmament, how to combat the drugs problem and compensation for the victims of the conflict."

Farc chief negotiator Ivan Marquez said: "We have advanced in the construction of an accord that will necessarily be checked over before the completion of the final agreement.”

Farc and Colombia’s other main rebel group, ELN, have over the years regularly targeted the country’s lucrative oil industry by blowing up pipelines or kidnapping oil workers.

In the first half of last year state-owned oil company Ecopetrol lost almost 11,000 barrels per day of its oil production, or some 1% of its total daily production, due to such attacks.

The company swiftly cut this down to about 0.3% of daily production with president Ecopetrol Javier Gutierrez attributing much of the success to it taking a holistic approach to the problem.

“Basically, what we are trying to do is to develop an integrated strategy... to work with authorities — the local, the regional authorities,” he said in an interview in October.

“We have improved a lot in terms of the number of days it takes for us to repair the facilities after an attack. For example, last year we were taking around 25 days to repair, right now we are taking around three to five days.”

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