June 27, 2017 / 7:45 PM / a year ago

Colombia's Ecopetrol Rubiales oil output hit by protests

BOGOTA, June 27 (Reuters) - Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol said on Tuesday it has suspended production at some wells in the nation’s largest oil field after demonstrators seized the facility in the latest incident affecting that industry in the Andean nation.

The demonstrators, who identified themselves as members of the Alto Unuma indigenous community, occupied facilities at Water Disposal Plant 6 of the Rubiales field and ordered operators to shut it down, Ecopetrol said in a statement.

Eighty-one wells were closed, causing a loss of 9,500 barrels per day.

Rubiales produces about 135,000 bpd, equivalent to a quarter of Ecopetrol’s total production.

“About 100 people are blocking the internal roads of the field which affects the normal operation of maintenance, drilling, production and projects being carried out,” the company said.

The blockades have also prevented shift changes, “a situation that violates the right to work of more than 400 people,” it said.

Ecopetrol is the largest crude oil producer in Colombia.

Social protests against oil and mining activity has intensified in recent months, including legal uncertainty caused by popular consultations with communities. Colombia has oil reserves equivalent to about 5.1 years of consumption. (Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra and Helen Murphy; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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