UPDATE 1-Colombia to repair oil pipeline after deal with indigenous group
(Changes source to energy ministry; adds U'wa quote, detail)
By Peter Murphy
BOGOTA May 1 (Reuters) - A Colombian oil pipeline owned by state-run Ecopetrol will be repaired after the government reached a deal with the U'wa indigenous community who blocked access to a damaged section for more than a month, the Energy Ministry said on Thursday.
The 780-km (485-mile) Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline has been offline since a bomb attack by leftist guerrillas on March 25. Engineers have been unable to access the site due to a blockade by the U'wa who demand the pipeline be re-routed away from their area and that a nearby hydrocarbons project be scrapped.
The Cano Limon and Caricare fields are operated by New York-listed Occidental Petroleum Corp. They produce about 67,000 barrels per day of crude via the pipeline, which has been shut since the explosion.
Ecopetrol was forced to declare force majeure on at least 25 delivery contracts due to the stoppage. The pipeline's total capacity is around 220,000 barrels per day.
The government agreed to suspend for one month the nearby Magallanes gas exploration project to evaluate its environmental impact and also to despatch a team to confirm the boundaries of the U'wa territory, the Energy Ministry said in a statement.
As well as Energy Minister Amylkar Acosta, the meeting was also attended by Interior Minister Aurelio Iragorri Valencia and Ecopetrol Chief Executive Officer Javier Genaro Gutierrez.
Elmer Tegria, an U'wa leader, said the meeting had lasted 11 hours and that those manning the blockade would be contacted early on Friday and ordered to disband. Continuación...