| BOGOTA, April 28
BOGOTA, April 28 A Colombian rebel group stopped
and set fire to 12 vehicles transporting contractors and
equipment to repair a pipeline on behalf of state-owned oil
company Ecopetrol, police officials said on Monday.
No one was killed or injured in Sunday's attack by the
National Liberation Army, or ELN, in a rural area in Norte de
Santander province, near the border with Venezuela. The area is
a hotbed for rebel activity.
The convoy was intercepted and torched as it headed to carry
out repairs on the Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline that has been
halted for the last month after several bomb attacks by the ELN
and the FARC, another rebel group.
Flow along the 780-km pipeline, with capacity to transport
210,000 barrels of crude from oil fields in northern Arauca
province, has also been halted by a local indigenous community,
which has refused to allow workers onto its land to do repairs.
The series of attacks and repair delays have obliged
U.S.-based Occidental to stop work in the Cano Limon and
Caricare fields, which usually produce 67,000 barrels per day,
and prompted a declaration of force majeure by Ecopetrol.
Each day that production is stalled results in a loss of 7
percent of the Andean nation's total production, which is around
one million barrels per day, Ecopetrol said.
The ELN is the smaller of two rebel groups operating in
Colombia, with fewer than 2,000 fighters. The larger rebel
group, the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, is
in the midst of peace talks with the government.
There were 259 attacks on pipelines in 2013, the highest
number in a decade and a 72 percent increase from the previous
(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta, Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb;
Editing by Ken Wills)