An oil pipeline in southern Colombia remained inactive after being bombed Tuesday by suspected rebels, and will likely remain paralyzed for at least four to five days, an official at state-run oil firm Ecopetrol SA (EC, ECOPETROL.BO) said.
“Repairs like this usually take at least four to five days, and our personnel has not yet reached one the sectors that was attacked,” an Ecopetrol press official who requested to remain anonymous to comply with company policy said Thursday.
The attack took place on Tuesday, forcing Ecopetrol to stop pumping oil through the Transandino pipeline, which has a capacity to carry 48,000 oil barrels per day. Leftist rebels were apparently responsible for the bombings in two different sections of the pipeline. One of the attacks took place in a remote sector that technical crews have not yet been able to reach as they await for the military to inspect the area, the Ecopetrol official said.
Ecopetrol owns and operates the 306-kilometer long pipeline, which stretches from Ecuador to port of Tumaco in Colombia’s pacific coast. The pipeline was pumping around 30,000 barrels per day before the bombing.
Pipeline attacks by Colombian rebel group have fallen to a handful per year from more than 200 a decade earlier as the government has ramped up security in remote rural areas.
Colombia has seen massive inflows of foreign investment to develop its oil and natural gas industries as a result of the government’s market-friendly policies and its success in gaining control of territory once in the hands of Marxist guerrillas. Ecopetrol and its partner companies reached an average production in December of 734,000 barrels a day, a 10.4% increase from a year earlier.
The country’s oil transportation network is struggling to keep up with the surge in output. Ecopetrol, along with six other partners, is building a $4.2 billion pipeline slated to play a key role in upgrading the country’s oil infrastructure. The pipeline, called Oleoducto Bicentenario, will have a total cost is expected to be completed in December 2012 and will have a 450,000 barrels per day capacity.