World Bulletin / News Desk
With six bomb attacks in the last eight days on Colombia’s Caño Limón - Coveñas pipeline, the flow of crude oil has stopped.
Guerrilla groups such as the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the smaller ELN (National Liberation Army), have been stepping up their attacks on this and other pipelines that run along the Colombian border with Venezuela through the departments of Arauca and Norte de Santander to the north and exits 484 miles later on the Caribbean coast at the town of Coveñas.
It is not immediately clear which rebel groups active in the area are responsible for the attacks on the Caño Limón - Coveñas pipeline.
“While these rebel groups have nominally declared the end of their nefarious activities of the past of kidnapping, extortion and random bombings, they have now turned their attention to attacking economically significant targets owned for the most part by multinational enterprises,” said Wesley Tomaselli of Argus Media, a leading publication for the oil, gas and commodities sector.
U.S-owned Occidente de Colombia (Oxy) discovered and operates the expansive Caño Limón oilfield in Arauca which enabled Colombia to become an oil exporter. The United States is the top destination for Colombia's oil exports, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, though Colombia does not rank in the top 15 oil exporting nations globally.
Some 58 explosive devices have been disarmed along the length of the pipeline in 2014 to date, according to reports from the Colombian military, and these attacks are expected to increase as the date set for the presidential elections on May 25 nears. It is unclear if such attacks will impact the continuing peace dialogue between the government and the FARC in Havana, Cuba.
Ordinarily the Caño Limón - Coveñas pipeline transports up to 80,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) along the pipeline owned by Colombia’s Ecopetrol, but now Oxy is being forced to contract fuel tankers to move the product by road as the Caño Limón plant is currently storing an estimated 98,000 barrels, close to the facility’s limit. Ecopetrol has cited difficulties in making repairs to the pipeline since some of the damage is located in hard to reach sectors and possibly indigenous reservations.
Oxy reports more than 1.2 billion barrels of oil have been produced at Caño Limón since it was discovered in 1983.
Colombian Minister for Defence Juan Carlos Pinzon has promised to increase the number of troops in the area, in particular in Arauca, in the coming month to protect the infrastructure.
As a result of the on-going security issues, Oxy has suspended the contracts of some 500 employees.
The Caño Limón - Coveñas pipeline is not the only structure affected by such attacks. The Bicentenario pipeline in Casanare has also been targeted, hampering the transportation of some 110,000 barrels of crude per day.Last Mod: 10 Nisan 2014, 10:58