Oil and Gas

Colombia's Cano Limon oil pipeline attacked, oil threatens waterways

BOGOTA, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol on Thursday rushed to stop an oil spill that threatens to pollute waterways in northeastern Colombia, after a new attack on the Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline, the company and military authorities said.

The pipeline was hit on Wednesday by an explosion in the rural area of Cubara, in Boyaca province, an Ecopetrol representative told Reuters.

The explosion did not affect exports or pumping in the Cano Limon oil field in northern Arauca province since its operator, Occidental Petroleum, is currently using Ecopetrol’s Bicentenario pipeline to transport some 50,000 barrels per day of crude.

Even though the 773-kilometer (480-mile) Cano Limon pipeline has been out of operation since Aug. 25, the attack caused crude oil to spill into the surrounding area, threatening waterways.

The Cano Limon pipeline has capacity to transport up to 210,000 barrels per day of crude oil.

Military authorities in the region, who asked not to be identified, attributed the attack to guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN), considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

The insurgent group, which frequently attacks the pipeline, has around 2,000 fighters and opposes oil and mining activities by multinational companies, saying they take advantage of natural resources without benefiting Colombians.

The Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline has been the target of 83 attacks so far this year, more than the 62 in all of 2017, according to Ecopetrol. The pipeline has been shut 277 days this year.

President Ivan Duque, who took office in August, has said he will not continue peace talks with the ELN - initiated by his predecessor Juan Manuel Santos - until the rebels stop kidnappings and all criminal activity. (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta Writing by Helen Murphy Editing by Frances Kerry)