Key Colombian Oil Pipeline Out After Rebel Sabotage-again : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Key Colombian Oil Pipeline Out After Rebel Sabotage Jan 7 1:27pm ET

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's second-largest crude oil export pipeline, crippled nearly 100 times last year by leftist rebels, was out of action again after the first attack of 2001, state oil firm Ecopetrol said on Sunday.

A spokesman told Reuters the pipeline was hit by dynamite at 4 p.m. on Saturday some 53 miles west of the Cano Limon oil field near the Venezuelan border.

Cano Limon is operated by U.S.-based Occidental Petroleum Corp .

The spokesman had no details of levels of reserves or for how long the 220,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) capacity duct would be out of action. Repairs in the past have taken between several days to several weeks.

The spokesman blamed National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels, believed to have been behind most of at least 97 recorded attacks on the pipeline last year, for the sabotage.

The 485-mile oil duct, in the northeastern province of Arauca -- a leftist guerrilla stronghold -- has long been a target of sabotage by the two main rebel groups in Colombia's four-decades-old conflict.

They bomb it to protest what they see as foreign corporate dominance of Colombia's oil industry.

The ELN is fighting the larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and far-right paramilitary gangs in a conflict that has claimed 35,000 civilian lives and displaced 2 million people since 1990.

Continued sabotage of the pipeline has cost the government and Occidental hundreds of millions of dollars and caused large-scale environmental pollution, industry sources say.

The Cano Limon pipeline began operation in 1986. Oil is Colombia's largest export earner.

-- Martin Thompson (, January 07, 2001

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