Colombia's attorney general to investigate Ecopetrol oil spill

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Ecopetrol is pictured at its headquarters in Bogota, Colombia August 11, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia’s attorney general’s office on Monday launched an investigation to determine whether officials from state-run oil company Ecopetrol could be held criminally responsible for a oil spill of 550 barrels in Santander province.

The Lisama 158 well, which was in the process of being shut down because of low production, leaked crude into a ravine over a three-week period, contaminating the water and affecting animal and plant life.

“The investigation will seek to establish if individual officials from Ecopetrol were responsible and could be penalized,” an official from the attorney general’s office told Reuters.

The country’s procurator general - which has the power to remove officials from their jobs - and the environmental licensing agency are also conducting investigations into the leak.

Ecopetrol Chief Executive Officer Felipe Bayon Pardo told journalists late on Monday the company will cooperate fully with all three investigations.

“We will do everything necessary to re-establish environmental and social conditions in the area. It’s our commitment and we will invest the human, financial and technological resources which are required,” said Bayon.

Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Christian Schmollinger