Colombia's Cano Limon pipeline halted by first bomb attack of 2019

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol has halted the Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline after it was damaged in a bomb attack, spilling crude into two streams in Norte de Santander province, the company said.

The Friday explosion in the rural area of Campo Giles, in Tibu municipality, is the first bombing of Colombian oil infrastructure in 2019. Last year there were 89 attacks in just three provinces, many attributed to leftist rebels.

Crude spilled into two neighboring creeks and on surrounding vegetation, Ecopetrol said in a statement, but the spill is now under control.

The explosion did not affect exports or production in the Cano Limon oil field in northern Arauca province, operated by Occidental Petroleum.

The 773-kilometer (480-mile) Cano Limon pipeline was out of operation for most of 2018 because of attacks, which the military often attributes to the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group, considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

The Cano Limon pipeline has capacity to transport up to 210,000 barrels per day of crude oil.

The insurgent group, which frequently attacks the pipeline, has around 2,000 fighters and opposes oil and mining activities by multinational companies, saying they take advantage of natural resources without benefiting Colombians.

President Ivan Duque, who took office in August, has said he will not continue peace talks with the ELN initiated by his predecessor until the rebels stop kidnappings and all criminal activity.

Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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