Colombia's Cano Limon pipeline hit by three more bombings

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombian state-run oil company Ecopetrol said on Tuesday that three new bombings of the Cano Limon pipeline have caused contamination in several waterways in the country’s northeastern Arauca province.

The attacks on Sunday and Monday brought total bombings of the 485-mile (780-km) pipeline to 82 this year.

Cano Limon, which can transport up to 210,000 barrels of oil per day, has been out of service for much of 2018 because of bombings and illegal taps and was not functioning at the time of the latest attacks. It was also bombed on Saturday.

The regular bombings have not affected exports or production at the Cano Limon field, operated by Occidental Petroleum Corp, because crude is being moved through the nearby Bicentenario pipeline.

The latest attacks sent oil spilling into nearby waterways and the company has alerted towns to possible water contamination, Ecopetrol said.

The company does not often name the group it holds responsible for the bombings, but military sources cited fighters from the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group.

ELN, considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union, has about 1,500 combatants and opposes multinational companies that its leaders accuse of seizing natural resources without benefiting Colombians.

Colombian President Ivan Duque has demanded the group free all of its hostages and cease criminal activities before he will consider restarting peace talks that began last year under his predecessor, Juan Manuel Santos.

Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe