Colombia’s mining minister on Tuesday threatened to declare a state of emergency in the northeast of the country if a local indigenous tribe continues to refuse to end the blocking of oil transports in their region.
Mining and Energy Minister Amylkar Acosta announced that after a month of standstill in the Caño Limon-Coveñas pipeline, the U’wa tribe from the Norte de Santander state agreed to sit down and talk with the government last Friday, according to W Radio.
The pipeline was closed after a rebel attack on March 25. Since then, the indigenous’ resistance to allowing repairmen fix the pipeline has led to a loss in potential exports of at least 72,000 barrels a day.
According to newswire Reuters, the minister said he could call a state of emergency if the U’wa does not lift its blockade. The minister told radio station Caracol, that the government was still open to solve the problem through dialogue.
The explosion in the 480-mile-long pipeline in Toledo, a rural area of Norte de Santander bordering Venezuela owned by state-run oil company Ecopetrol, was shut off after the bomb attack that caused an oil spill and pollution of water sources.
The minister told radio W that until now the U’wa community’s “stubbornness” has been blocking for access in the areas, where the tube rupture needs repair.
The U’wa community has demanded the tube to be rerouted away from their territory and for a planned oil project to be annulled, Reuters reported.
But according to Acosta, changing the route of the pipeline will not be feasible, since it would imply building an entirely new facility, according to W Radio.