Police announced Wednesday afternoon that over 150 million cubic feet of natural gas intended for Venezuela have already been lost, after a bomb reportedly detonated by leftist guerrillas damaged the Antonio Ricuarte pipeline in northeastern Colombia.
The pipeline, co-operated by Chevron and the state-owned Ecopetrol energy company, stretches some 50 miles through Colombian territory, delivering an estimated 500 million cubic feet of natural gas a day over the Venezuelan border.
The attack came amid an apparent offensive on the part of what is believed to be the ELN rebel group, which has recently been blamed for a series of similar bombings in nearby Norte de Santander state that shut down Colombia’s second-largest oil pipeline earlier this week.
A car bombing that occurred in the Norte de Santander department Wednesday was also blamed on the ELN.
In the southeast, too, the rebeles have allegedly been active. In what police have speculated could be a coordinated effort on the part of the ELN and the FARC, Colombia’s second and first-largest rebel groups respectively, nine electrical towers in the Narino and Cauca departments have also been rendered inactive due to bombings.
The FARC, though currently engaged in peace talks with the Colombian government in Havana, have not agreed to any ceasefire treaty. Nor have the ELN, who have been pushing for the start of a similar peace process for the past several months.
The specific targeting of energy infrastructure has been a common tactic of both rebel groups in the past, as much of Colombia’s energy reserves lie in secluded, rural areas where the guerrillas are most active.
Repair efforts have already begun on the Cano Limon-Cavenas oil pipeline shut down on Monday, as environmentalists scramble to contain and clean up the resulting oil spill. No announcements have been made as to any lingering environmental concerns from the Ricuarte explosion.
The Ministry of Defense declined Colombia Reports’ request for a comment regarding any new, coordinated attack strategy being employed by Colombia’s two primary rebel groups, and top security officials have yet to publicly adress the most recent incident.
Neither of the two rebel groups allegedly behind the wave of attacks has acknowledged its involvement.
- Attack on pipeline cuts of Colombian gas exports to Venezuela (Reuters)
- Colombia’s no.2 oil pipeline shut down after attack (Reuters)
- Derriban Cuatro Torres de energia en el Cauca (Caracol Radio)
- Explota carro bomba en Norte de Santander (Caracol Radio)