The terrorist actions in recent months against the infrastructure of Ecopetrol, has been compounded by another recent menace: theft of copper cables that supply electrical power to oil wells. So far in 2015, Ecopetrol has reported 393 thefts of copper wire in three production areas of the country, almost double that reported in the same period last year, when to date 194 cases had been reported by mid-year.
Law enforcement has been able to capture 162 people this year, and recover 8,727 meters of cable (8,035 in the Orinoco region,372 in Magdalena Medio (Middle Magdalena) 372 and 320 in the south of Colombia). The oil fields in the Llanos Orientales and Middle Magdalena have been hit hardest. So far in 2015, there have been 193 cases of copper wire theft in the Orinoco region, while the Magdalena Medio recorded 175 incidents and 25 in the south of the country. In the case of the Llano Oriente (eastern plains), crime is concentrated in rural areas of Acacías and Castilla la Nueva (Meta). In the Middle Magdalena, Yondó, Antioquia, and Barrancabermeja, Santander are the affected parts. In the south of the country, the rural area of Neiva, Huila is facing problems.
Year to date there are 393 cases of theft, compared to 194 in the same period of 2014
Acacías oilfields, Castilla la Nueva (Meta), Yondó (Antioquia), and Barrancabermeja (Santander) are the most affected
In total, 224 oil wells have suffered damages due to cable theft. The main consequence of this illegal activity is the temporary interruption electrical flow stopping oil wells from pumping, with corresponding effects on the production of the company. The volume of crude production interruption so far this year has reached 24,885 barrels. In the Orinoco’s Castilla y Chichimene losses have reached 14,994 barrels, in the Middle Magdalena, the figure amounts to 6,513 barrels and 3,378 barrels in the south.
To address this problem, Colombia’s security forces have increased their operations in critical areas with more patrols, “lockdown operations” on the access roads, checkpoint operations, and junkyard inspections. Meanwhile, Ecopetrol is working on implementing additional protective measures on oil wells and raising public awareness about the damage and risk to life that this causes.
Photo courtesy of Ecopetrol