Colombia’s second largest guerrilla organization, the ELN, has allegedly attacked a caravan of vehicles owned by the oil giant Ecopetrol, local media reported on Monday.
Authorities allege ELN units in the eastern state of Santander halted a caravan of at least 12 vehicles in the early hours of Monday morning and set fire to its cargo of supplies and heavy machinery.
Colombia’s Vanguardia newspaper reported that the caravan was transporting supplies for the repair of the Caño Limon-Coveñas pipeline, which was damaged as a result of an alleged ELN attack last month.
Initial reports suggested that the ELN’s “Heroes of Catatumbo Front,” was responsible for Monday’s attack, though the ELN has not yet taken responsibility for the action.
In November 2013, the ELN declared war on the multinationals and oil companies “plundering” the country’s natural resources.
The ongoing closure of the Caño Limon-Coveñas pipeline, Colombia’s second most important oil pipeline, is halting the production of around 72,000 barrels per day, and losing the Colombian state around $8 million per day.
As a result of the closure the government has not received royalties, taxes and dividends totaling $136 million.
So far it has proven impossible for the state to repair the damaged section of pipeline as access to the area has been blocked by the U’wa indigenous community who have been mounting a resistance against state oil projects. They argued that oil projects present an imminent physical social and cultural threat to their group.
The ELN has been seeking an official peace process with the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos since shortly after the government initiated ongoing peace talks with the FARC rebel group last November in Havana.
Recently, the ELN has stepped up pressure on the Colombian government, both in public communications, and in a new wave of high-profile terrorist strikes on the country’s energy infrastructure.