Guerrilla attacks on Ecopetrol’s southern pipeline more than tripled this year causing the company to reduce its production targets, reported Bloomberg news on Thursday.
The state-run company which was the best-performing major oil company this year, has suffered a massive increase in violent and destructive attacks on its infrastructure and workers this year by he FARC and the smaller geurrillal group the ELN.
The company is supposedly a target because the government uses oil revenue to boost income which in turn funds the military which has recently stepped up efforts to eradicate the cultivation of coca in the area.
Throughout the year Ecopetrol alone has been the victim of 43 attacks and the oil company reported that its workers in the southern Putumayo department, a hotbed of guerrilla activity, had received death threats while five workers were killed at a well in July.
The 191-mile-long Transandino pipeline alone has been hit 37 times so far this year compared to only 10 blasts in 2011. In August attacks on the pipeline which transports crude oil from Putumayo to the Pacific port of Tumaco in the Nariño department caused a fire and a spill.
According to reports the wells in Putumayo have only been working at 50% capacity which loses approximately $1.8 million a day, while repairing damage to the environment will cost $310,000.
In July Ecopetrol was forced to trim down its production forecast of 800,000 barrels of oil a day to 780,000 barrels as the pipeline was temporarily shut down due to destructive attacks.
“Ecopetrol hs built an image of a prosperous and efficient state-run company, undermining and sabotaging that image is in the political and economic interest of the Colombian guerrilla movement,” explained a former member of Colombia’s Security Council to Bloomberg News.
The state-run company’s shares however are still holding strong and have returned a market value of more than $50 billion according to Bloomberg.
In all attacks on Colombia’s power infrastructure jumped last year to 196 incidents from 113 in 2010.
The report comes on the same day an investigation was announced into claims the company’s president and vice-president were involved in embezzling $1 billion.