Ongoing attacks on Colombia’s Caño Limón-Coveñas pipeline have left the nation’s key crude transport route out of service since May 30, state-controlled oil company Ecopetrol announced today.
Officials have been unable to properly repair the 480-mile pipeline following a large attack in May that caused an oil spill in Tibú in the department of Norte de Santander. The repairs have not been completed due to “continued harassment by firing helicopters” and “anti-personnel mines in some areas,” according to the Bogotá-based company. Ecopetrol said that assailants setting fire to equipment has also caused delays in the efforts to repair the damage.
Photo: An image distributed by Ecopetrol shows the environmental damage caused by an attack last week on the Caño Limón-Coveñas pipeline in the department of Arauca. (Credit: Ecopetrol)
The most recent pipeline attack occurred last Friday, July 21, in Saravena in the department of Arauca. In that incident, damage to Caño Limón-Coveñas, which is jointly owned by Ecopetrol and U.S. oil company Occidental, led to an oil spill that impacted some 2,500 square meters of land and vegetation.
In all, eight attacks have been reported since May 30 and oil theft has also been on the rise, according to Ecopetrol. Groups routinely damage the pipeline by opening it up to siphon off crude, and officials have discovered 17 of these illicit valves since May 30.
Previously, in the month of May alone, assailants stole roughly 100,000 barrels of oil. Their actions also led to the spillage of 11,064 barrels in the month, stated Ecopetrol.
In all of 2017, the company said that have been 38 known attacks against the oil infrastructure in Arauca, Boyacá, Cesar, and Norte de Santander. Additionally, at least 27 illicit valves have been detected this year on the Caño Limón-Covenas pipeline. Combined, the illegal actions against the pipeline have spilled oil that has impacted 13,300 square meters of land.
“Ecopetrol rejects these illegal actions that put the life and integrity of people at risk, violate international human rights, seriously affect the environment and the well-being of communities, as well as the normal development of oil activities.”
Ongoing disruptions to Caño Limón-Covenas in early 2017 left the pipeline out of service for more than one of the first three months of the year. That shutdown cost Colombia some 893,000 barrels of oil production, according to Ecopetrol.