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Militants from the National Liberation Army (ELN) blew up a section of Colombia’s Transandino pipeline overnight Monday, killing two policemen right before the incident.
The Transandino pipeline, owned and operated by Colombia’s state-run Ecopetrol, transports around 85,000 barrels of oil daily to the Pacific Tumaco port.
The explosion took place in Colombia’s western Narino Department, according to local and international media reports.
Just hours before the explosion, ELN militants killed two policemen in Narino.
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The ELN is the second-largest rebel group in Colombia after FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) both groups are on U.S. and E.U. terrorist organization lists, and in some cases they have been known to cooperate.
The pipeline bombing comes as sentiments were high that government talks with both groups would lead to a truce of some sort in the first half of this year.
Last week, ELN implemented a 72-hour lockdown in the area, targeting a halt to transportation and commerce in an apparent bid to pressure the government over the slow pace of informal peace talks, Reuters reported.
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The infrastructure sabotage comes at a particularly bad time for Ecopetrol, which has begun closing oil wells as production costs overtake crude prices, according to a Bloomberg report.
The news agency cited a Colombian oil executive as saying that Ecopetrol would be closing down heavy oil wells in the central Meta province and elsewhere in an effort of triage as oil prices continue to be suppressed.
Ecopetrol has lost more than $120 billion in market value since its peak in 2012. The company’s market cap is down 90 percent to about $14.5 billion today, according to Bloomberg. Back in 2012, there was a brief moment when Ecopetrol was valued higher than oil giant BP, and Ecopetrol was actually the fifth most valuable oil company in the world. Now it has fallen to 38th.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com