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Colombia’s ELN Rebels Accused Of Bombing 220,000 Bpd Oil Pipeline

Colombian military authorities believe the ELN, the country’s second-largest guerilla army, was behind the bombing of the Caño Limón-Coveñas oil pipeline on Tuesday morning.

As reported in Argus Media, the attack took place in the Arauca province located in eastern Colombia near the Venezuelan border.

The bombing forced a suspension of operations on the pipeline controlled by state-run Ecopetrol and is the second largest in Colombia with a flow of 220,000 barrels per day (bpd). The attack also forced the shutdown of the Bicentenario pipeline, which transports some 120,000 bpd of Llanos crude into Caño Limón-Coveñas.

According to one Colombian media source (W Radio), the attack did not cause any oil to spill, but troops were ordered to the site of the incident due to the suspension of operations on the pipeline. Yet another outlet (El Espectador) contradicted this statement by noting that thirty lineal meters of crude spilled from the pipeline, and that soldiers were sent to examine if any other explosives were left on the channel.

As a result, Ecopetrol activated contingency plans, and local disaster agencies were placed on high alert.

The ELN have not claimed the attack, but if true, it would be their second bombing of Caño Limón-Coveñas in the past three months.

If true, the incident would represent a clear violation of their unilateral ceasefire in effect from 30 September to 5 October, which was enacted due to a plebiscite held on 2 October where a majority of voters by a slim margin rejected a peace deal agreed upon by the federal government and the FARC guerillas.

Though the ELN was not part of the four-year-long peace talks involving Colombia’s largest guerilla army, ELN commanders expressed confidence at soon commencing formal discussions with the government.

“With enthusiasm, we’re ready to attend our next meeting with the government. We anticipate providing good (news),” read a message on the twitter account of the ELN negotiators and cited by El Colombiano.

According to El Tiempo, Colombian army commander Gen. Alberto José Mejía believed the presumed attack by the ELN was an attempt to “show the FARC that the right path is military action, the path to terrorism.”

By Erwin Cifuentes for Oilprice.com

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