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Colombia rebel bombings shut two of Ecopetrol' s main oil pipelines

BY DAN MOLINSKI

BOGOTA -- Two of state oil company Ecopetrol SA' s main pipelines, one near Venezuela and the other near Ecuador, are out of service after a pair of bombing attacks by rebel "terrorists," the company said Tuesday.

Police say at least one of the two attacks, which combined have halted the pumping of more than 100,000 bbls of oil, was committed by Colombia' s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which is in four-month-old peace talks with Colombia' s government in Cuba.

The first attack was Friday on Colombia' s second-largest oil pipeline, the Cano Limon, which normally pumps around 70,000 bpoed for Ecopetrol and California-based Occidental Petroleum to a shipping port on the Atlantic from the companies' Cano Limon field in Arauca state near Venezuela. An official at Ecopetrol confirmed Tuesday that repair crews are yet to re-establish pumping of the pipeline.

The official said it is unclear which rebel group bombed the Cano Limon.

The second bombing happened Monday on the 46,000 bboed Transandino pipeline, an attack police say was the work of FARC rebels. Ecopetrol said in a statement the bombing caused a large fire and forced the evacuation of 40 families living in the Orito municipality of Putumayo state, which runs along the border with Ecuador.

The attacks are at least the sixth and seventh pipeline bombings this year.

Oil makes up 40% of all Colombia' s exports, and the government relies on sales of crude oil and other petroleum products for more than half of its foreign revenue. Colombia produces nearly one million bopd.

In addition to rebel attacks on oil infrastructure, the FARC allegedly is to blame for several deadly attacks against armed forces and civilians in recent weeks. But President Juan Manuel Santos said Tuesday the number of attacks is no more than in previous years.

Mr. Santos says peace talks with the FARC in Havana will continue despite the violence, so long as the FARC still wants to reach a peace accord. The FARC has called for a bilateral ceasefire during the talks, but Mr. Santos refuses.

Dow Jones Newswires

02/12/2013

 

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