A bomb placed on Saturday by Colombia’s last standing Marxist-inspired rebel group the ELN has halted the flow of crude oil along the South American country’s second largest oil pipeline, sources from the military and Ecopetrol revealed to Rueters on Tuesday.
The explosion in a rural area of the Saravena municipality of the Arauca province affected the Caño Limon–Coveñas halting production on the 485 mile (780 km) pipeline operated by US-based Occidental Petroleum.
General Luis Murcia, commander of the Eighth Division of the Colombia’s national army, said the spill affected the vegetation but did not reach any water source, reported El Colombiano.
The rebels have continually targeted the oil industry during their more than half-century-long conflict against the Colombian state.
A series of bombings already left the Caño Limon-Coveñas offline for seven weeks between February 15 and April 5 of this year, one of the longest periods of suspended crude flow since the pipeline became operational in 1986.
A recent report from the state oil company said that in the last 17 years attacks on this pipeline have left 167 dead, 584 injured and 66 million gallons of oil spilled, reported El Colombiano.
The attacks, which numbered 43 last year, cause oil spills and environmental damage.
So far this year there have been 32 bombings on oil infrastructure, according to state-run oil company Ecopetrol.
The Caño Limon-Covenas pipeline transports crude from the fields in Arauca province, near the border with Venezuela, to a port in the Caribbean Sea for export. The field produces around 52,000 barrels per day. The pipeline can carry up to 210,000 barrels per day.
The ELN rebel group is currently engaged in peace talks with the Colombian government in the Ecuadorean capital of Quito but in spite of this, it continues to engage in the practices of bombing and kidnapping.
Continued violent action by the rebels has made progress at the talks very slow with the guerrillas using attacks against the oil industry and kidnappings to strengthen their hand at the negotiation table.