(Adds witness account of oil spill)
By Alonso Soto
QUITO Feb 25 Ecuador's second largest oil pipeline
halted pumping Wednesday morning after the line was ruptured, but it
had enough stock to cover February export commitments, the line
Pedro Lopez, spokesman for the firm that administers the
private, 130,000-barrel-per-day OCP pipeline, said the damage was
being evaluated to determine when the line could restart operations.
The pipeline carries mostly heavy crude to the Pacific coast
from private oil companies operating in the OPEC nation and an
affiliate of state oil company Petroecuador.
"We are still evaluating the conditions of the pipeline ... We
have no estimates to when the line can restart pumping," said Lopez,
adding that the oil spill was contained.
Douglas Beltman, an environmental scientist on the scene, said a
a tick layer of crude was covering a nearby river in the Amazonia
province of Napo, but it was too early to measure the magnitude of
"The river was completely covered with oil from bank to bank,"
said Beltman, who is evaluating oil pollution in the Amazon for
indigenous and peasants suing oil major Chevron Corp (CVX.N). "It
looked like a bad spill."
The jungle dwellers accuse Chevron of polluting the jungle and
damaging their health by dumping 18 billion gallons (68 billion
liters) of contaminated water from 1972 and 1992. Chevron denies any
Repeated oil spills are a threat to rare species of jaguars and
river dolphins in the Amazon jungle where most of the country's oil
operations are located.
Ecuador's largest pipeline, the state-run 360,000-bpd oil
pipeline, was operating normally, an oil company official told
Both lines run alongside each other in some areas on their way
to a Pacific Ocean port.
Heavy rains across the country have triggered a slew of
mudslides in areas where both pipelines travel.
Ecuador, South America's No. 5 oil producer, produces around
500,000 bpd, extracted almost evenly by Petroecuador and foreign oil
companies. Most of Ecuador's crude is exported to the United
(Reporting by Alonso Soto; Editing by Marguerita Choy)