Colombia's No. 2 oil pipeline shut after bomb attacks: Ecopetrol

Reuters

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's second most important oil pipeline, the Cano Limon-Covenas, has been temporarily shut down after three bomb attacks, state oil company Ecopetrol said on Monday, explosions the security forces attributed to leftist guerrillas.

The closure of the 780-km (484 mile) 80,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) pipeline owned by Ecopetrol did not immediately affect exports or oil production by U.S. oil producer Occidental Petroleum Corp, which feeds crude into the pipeline from a field it operates near the Venezuelan border.

The pipeline runs to the Caribbean sea port of Covenas, from where the crude is exported.

Guerrilla groups have attacked oil infrastructure with increasing frequency over the last year or so, even with peace talks under way between the government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

An Ecopetrol spokesman said it was not yet clear how long it would take to repair and reopen the pipeline, but he said some damaged sections were located in remote areas that are difficult to access. Damage from explosive attacks by guerrillas are typically repaired within two to four days.

Army and police sources did not specify whether the attacks were carried out by the FARC or their smaller counterpart, the National Liberation Army, or ELN, both of which are listed by the United States and European Union as terrorist organizations.

Foreign direct investment in Colombia has surged in recent years due to improved security with most destined for the oil and mining sectors, but oil companies have had to contend with attacks as frequent as every two to three days in 2012.

A separate attack last week blamed on the FARC forced the temporary closure of the 190-mile Transandino pipeline in southern Colombia, which has a capacity of around 48,000 bpd and runs to the Pacific coast.

Colombia's crude oil output reached 944,000 bpd on average in 2012, production which was limited by disruption from regular attacks which pollute the area where the pipeline is ruptured.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Peter Murphy; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Chris Reese)

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