Photo: Aerial photo of the Caño Limón Field in Arauca. (Credit: Luis)
The state-controlled oil company said in a statement that the 480-mile-long pipeline, which stretches from the Arauca department to the Caribbean coast and is one of two major oil transportation pipelines in Colombia, has been attacked 28 times this year so far. The latest strike has paralyzed operations at the Caño Limón Field for 15 days dating back to March 6, halting its average production level of 52,000 barrels of oil per day.
“Ecopetrol emphatically rejects these terrorist acts that violate international humanitarian law, endanger the integrity of civilians and members of public security forces, affect the normal provision of essential public services — such as potable water and household gas — and seriously damage the environment,” said the company in a statement.
Guerrillas typically carry out the attacks with explosives that either break or dent the pipeline, both of which threaten lives and the environment. Recent attacks have occurred in El Tarra in the department of Norte de Santander and Cubar in Boyacá, in which one driver was injured when transport vehicles were targeted, according to Ecopetrol.
In all this year, 26 of the attacks have occurred in Norte de Santander, primarily in the municipalities of El Carmen, El Tarra, and Teorama.
Attacks have also caused oil spills that have contaminated waterways including the El Loro and Culebritas, both of which are tributaries of the Catatumbo River that forms part of the Colombian border with Venezuela.
Ecopetrol noted that a prolonged shutdown of the Caño Limón Field jeopardizes 1,600 jobs, most in the department of Arauca. The shutdown also threatens the local contracting and services work that accounts for some 70 billion pesos ($24 million USD) each year.