Pumping has been halted at Colombia’s second-longest pipeline, the Caño Limon, after several bombings by leftist guerrillas in recent days, according to an official at national oil company Ecopetrol (ECOPETROL.BO, EC).
The Ecopetrol official said Wednesday it wasn’t clear when pumping may resume at the Caño Limon pipeline, which can send 220,000 barrels a day to the coast for export but over the past year has been pumping closer to 80,000 barrels a day. The oil in the pipeline comes from a field in northeastern Colombia, also called the Caño Limon, which is controlled by Ecopetrol and U.S.-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY).
Facundo Castillo, governor of the northeastern state of Arauca where the field is located, told La FM radio Wednesday morning that Occidental is considering suspending operations in Colombia and declaring a force majeure due to the persistent bombings by rebels. A force majeure is a term in a contract that can be invoked when conditions beyond the control of the company make it impossible for it to fulfill terms to which it originally agreed.
Castillo said the Caño Limon pipeline has been bombed at least 13 times this year. The Ecopetrol official wouldn’t confirm this figure.
“At this moment, the oil company Occidental is considering the possibility of declaring a force majeure,” Castillo told the radio station. He said he and other local officials are trying to convince Occidental to continue operations because the region counts on Occidental for royalties, employment and other help.
Officials at Occidental weren’t immediately available to comment.
The Caño Limon for years has been a popular target for Colombia’s main rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and another leftist group, the ELN. The illegal armed guerrilla groups, which help fund themselves through drug trafficking, have been fighting the Colombian government for decades.
Occidental has declared forces majeures in Colombia in the past due to rebel bombings but most were declared more than a decade ago, when rebel attacks were more common.