Ecuador pipeline bursts but oil exports unaffected, gov't says

QUITO, April 8 Mon Apr 8, 2013 5:26pm EDT

QUITO, April 8 (Reuters) - Ecuador's second-largest oil pipeline burst on Monday, but exports from the OPEC-member country will not be affected, the government said.

The Heavy Crude Oil Pipeline, known as OCP, is a 475-kilometer (300-mile) pipeline with a capacity of up to 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) that links oil fields in the eastern Sucumbios region to the Pacific coast. The pipeline transports around 150,000 bpd.

"The breakage of OCP, which occurred on Monday, April 8 at 6:10 am (1210 GMT) will not affect crude exports," the energy ministry said in a statement, adding that two export terminals in the Pacific coast have 2.6 million barrels of crude stocks for exports.

The stocks are enough for forthcoming oil shipments due on April 10, 13 and 17, the statement said.

Ecuador's energy ministry said that around 5,500 barrels of crude were spilled when OCP broke and that the pipeline suspended operations following the incident.

According to the ministry the pipeline will be back online by April 13.

The statement said officials were investigating the cause of the incident, which was initially blamed on geological factors.

Ecuador is OPEC's smallest member and last year produced an average of 504,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

OCP is controlled by several oil companies, including Spain's Repsol, France's Perenco and Brazil's Petrobras .

The Andean country's largest pipeline, known as Sote, transports crude oil produced by state-run company Petroamazonas, which aims to produce 325,000 bpd on average this year. (Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Eduardo Garcia; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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