BOGOTA, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Normal operations at Ecopetrol's Cartagena refinery are being hampered by union protests, Colombia's state-run oil company said on Friday, requiring the activation of a contingency plan to keep the plant running.
Members of the Workers Union for the Petroleum Industry (USO) blocked employees from entering facilities at the coastal refinery, Ecopetrol said in a statement.
Non-union employees were operating the plant, an Ecopetrol spokesman said, adding that the company hoped to hold a meeting with USO representatives later on Friday.
The 200-person protest, which began on Thursday, "has impeded the access of workers from different areas within the Cartagena refinery, which has affected shift changes, internal mobility and the normal development of activities," the company said.
"This situation has required the activation of the contingency plan to guarantee operations at the refinery."
Protesters had so far prevented four shift changes, the company said.
The USO could not immediately be reached for comment.
The refinery currently processes some 90,000 barrels per day of crude. (Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb Editing by W Simon)