Three recent rebel attacks against Colombia’s oil sector in the northern Norte de Santander department have cost the state-owned Ecopetrol company $1.7 million in damages.
Ecopetrol on Wednesday said that the three guerrilla attacks led to an oil spill of 10,180 barrels of crude oil. In total, there have been seven attacks against the Norte de Santander’s Caño Limon-Conveñas oil pipeline in 2013. The company, which is 80% owned by the state, was only able to calculate the cost of the three attacks carried out in January.
“The pipeline can not move the hydrocarbon,” Ecopetrol said, “since February 7, the emergency plan [has been in effect].”
FARC rebels blew up another section of the Caño Limon-Conveñas pipeline Wednesday night which resulted in extensive damage. The seven attacks against the pipeline took place in the Teorama, Convencion, Toledo and El Carmen municipalities, all located in the Norte de Santander department.
So far this year, FARC and ELN insurgents have launched 14 separate attacks against Colombia’s oil infrastructure. The FARC have a long history of wreaking havoc on the country’s oil industry. In 2012, the Chinese-based Emerald Energy company reported a complete shutdown of its oil production in the southern Caqueta department due to repeated FARC attacks and threats made against their facilities and employees.
In August 2012, Ecopetrol reported a 50% decrease in production in the southwestern Putumayo department due to assaults from the FARC and the ELN — Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group.
According to the conflict-monitoring NGO Nuevo Arco Iris, members of the FARC’s 800-person strong Middle Magdalena Bloc, which is largely based in Norte de Santander, have concentrated their forces along the border with Venezuela. The insurgents reportedly carry out their assaults in Colombia and then take refuge on the other side of the border. The Middle Magdalena Bloc is considered one of the largest threats against the country’s oil industry, due to its ability to move with relative ease through the remote zones which are intersected by the Cano-Limon-Conveñas pipeline.