Ecuador Declares Force Majeure After Oil Pipeline Shutdown

QUITO (Reuters) — Ecuador has declared force majeure on oil exploration and production activities after its main crude pipeline halted operations due to soil erosion in the Amazon region, the Andean nation's energy ministry said on Thursday.

Crude exports will not be affected by the force majeure declaration given the level of inventories at the Balao terminal, the ministry said in a statement.

State-run oil company Petroecuador on Wednesday shut the SOTE pipeline, with a capacity to transport some 360,000 barrels of crude per day, as a preventative measure. 

An April landslide in the Amazon prompted the SOTE and another major pipeline to burst, forcing Ecuador to halt oil exports.

In the statement, Energy Minister Rene Ortiz said he expected Petroecuador would complete construction of a SOTE pipeline variant within five days, allowing pumping to resume.

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