Oil and Gas

Colombia's Bicentenario pipeline stopped by rebel bombing

BOGOTA, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Colombia’s Bicentenario crude oil pipeline has been shut down after being damaged in a bombing that security officials blamed on leftist rebels, the latest of regular explosions carried out by guerrillas on the country’s oil infrastructure.

The attack took place on Tuesday in Fortul, in the eastern province of Arauca near the border with Venezuela, causing a huge fire but no injuries or fatalities, a statement from the operator said on Wednesday.

“The oil pipeline was ruptured, oil was spilled and there was a fire,” said the statement from Oleoducto Bicentenario, which operates the pipeline on behalf of the consortium that owns it, led by state-run Ecopetrol and Toronto-listed Pacific Rubiales.

The 230-km (143 miles) pipeline has capacity to transport 110,000 barrels per day from the Eastern Plains to the Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline.

The company did not estimate when the pipeline could reopen, although repairs to frequent attacks on Colombia’s oil pipelines usually take place within a few days once the zone is secured.

The pipeline runs through an area with a heavy presence of rebels from the FARC, or Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces, and its smaller counterpart, the ELN, or National Liberation Army. The company did not specify which group was behind the attack.

Colombia is Latin America’s fourth-biggest oil producer with output of nearly 1 million barrels per day. But the sector has been hit by 67 attacks in the first half of the year, following a total of 259 in 2013.

Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Peter Murphy