Colombia's Ecopetrol criticizes new attacks on oil pipeline

View of the oil refinery Ecopetrol in Barrancabermeja
View of the oil refinery Ecopetrol in Barrancabermeja, Colombia, March 1, 2017. Picture Taken March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga/File Photo

BOGOTA, March 22 (Reuters) - Colombia's majority state-owned oil company Ecopetrol (ECO.CN) on Wednesday criticized new attacks against an oil pipeline run by its subsidiary Cenit, saying the attacks harm the country's population and the economy.

The Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline has been the target of five attacks by armed groups and two installations of illicit valves so far this year, Ecopetrol said in a statement. Five of the incidents harmed the surrounding environment.

The pipeline was most recently attacked on Tuesday in a rural part of Saravena municipality, in Arauca province, the company said, adding Cenit staff were on site attending to the damage.

Colombia's oil infrastructure is the frequent target of theft and attacks by leftist rebels. Thousands of barrels of oil are stolen from pipelines each day, refined into bootleg fuels and used in making cocaine.

"Situations like these put life, personal integrity, free mobility and the environment at risk, affecting workers and their families, as well as others inhabitants," Ecopetrol said.

In early March, an attack on an oil pipeline led to environmental damage near a refinery in the Colombian city of Barrancabermeja.

Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by David Gregorio

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