Peru crude oil pipeline resumes operation after year of spills

The headquarters of Petroleos del Peru (Petroperu), a state company dedicated to the refining, distribution and marketing of fuels, is seen at the district of San Isidro in Lima, Peru, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

LIMA (Reuters) - A crude oil pipeline operated by Peru’s state-owned oil company Petroperu became fully operational on Tuesday following repairs on a series of ruptures that had partially shuttered it for more than a year, a spokesman said.

The reopening of a final section of the 687-mile (1,106-km) pipeline allows Petroperu to replace river and ground transportation that had been used as alternatives for moving crude from Amazonian oilfields to the Pacific Coast, the spokesman said.

The pipeline transported less than 15,000 barrels of oil per day before the spills, but its closure has been a drag on economic growth as it has halted some production.

The resumption of the pipeline’s operations come as global oil prices are recovering and could bolster drilling plans in Peru, a relatively small producer of crude where output has slipped for years.

Petroperu has reported more than a dozen ruptures in the aging pipeline in the Amazon since the start of 2016, including at least two this month that it blamed on attacks by unknown vandals.

The spills have polluted rivers that indigenous communities once used for drinking water and disrupted the operations of private oil firms Frontera Energy Corp, Perenco and Pluspetrol.

Environmental regulator Oefa has said that intentional cuts on the pipeline caused the most recent ruptures but that others were due to a lack of maintenance.

Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by Marguerita Choy