Colombia’s second-largest pipeline, Cano-Limon Covenas with a 210,000-bpd capacity, was attacked early on Thursday, as a result of which oil was spilled and the flow of crude along the pipeline was halted, Colombia’s state oil firm Ecopetrol said in a statement.
According to Reuters, the attack has not had impact on oil production at the Cano Limon field, which is operated by U.S.-based Occidental Petroleum, or on exports.
The attack in the El Carmen municipality in the province of Norte de Santander has caused an environmental emergency and the oil spill was affecting a stream that serves as the water source of 3,500 area residents, Ecopetrol said. As part of the contingency plan, the company has halted crude pumping and closed the water source.
So far this year, the Cano-Limon Covenas pipeline has been target of 31 attacks, Ecopetrol said.
Although the company did not point the finger to any group, Colombia’s lead negotiator at peace talks with the leftist National Liberation Army, ELN, said on Twitter that ELN complicates negotiations with “terrorist attacks like this that affect peaceful civilian population.”
Although the Colombian government and ELN have been negotiating a truce, attacks have been frequent, and Cano-Limon Covenas has suffered a lot from them.
Due to attacks on Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline, Colombia lost 893,000 barrels of oil production — more than what the country pumps in one day — between January and mid-March, according to Ecopetrol. As of March 21, a total of 28 attacks, attributed by the military to ELN, had halted the pipeline for 37 days since the beginning of the year.
Due to a series of bomb attacks on the pipeline, Cano Limon-Covenas was offline for seven weeks between February 15 and April 5, one of the longest periods of suspended crude flow since the pipeline became operational in 1986.