* Affected Vasconia volumes not seen significant
* Gov’t negotiating with indigenous community to repair pipe
* U.S.’s Occidental suspends contractors until line reopens (Adds details on attack, obstacles to repairs, background)
By Peter Murphy and Luis Jaime Acosta
BOGOTA, April 7 (Reuters) - Colombia’s state-run Ecopetrol SA has declared force majeure on a small number of deliveries of medium Vasconia crude after the Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline was damaged by a series of attacks by leftist guerillas, a press official said on Monday.
The official could not specify on what date force majeure was declared, what quantities were involved or which clients would be affected, but said volumes were not significant enough to require notifying the country’s stock market regulator.
The pipeline has been shut since a blast on March 25 in Toledo province, he said. Normally speedy repairs could not take place this time because of objections and demands made by an indigenous community near the site of the blast.
Government and justice officials have intervened to seek a solution to the demands, which include diverting the pipeline away from their area, the Ecopetrol press official said. A separate bomb attack took place elsewhere in the same province on April 1, he said.
Until repairs can begin, there is no estimate for when the 780 km (485 mile) pipeline, owned by Ecopetrol subsidiary Cenit, could reopen. It has capacity to transport 220,000 barrels per day.
U.S.-based Occidental, which like Ecopetrol relies on the pipeline to pump oil to the Caribbean coast from the Cano Limon oil field, said in a statement on Monday that it had to suspend some contractors due to the pipeline’s closure.
A Colombia-based source at Occidental said the company had exhausted its storage capacity at the field, forcing it to suspend production. Workers would be able to return once the pipeline was operational, the source said.
Occidental produced an average 29,000 barrels per day in 2013, according to data on its web site.
Occidental is the operator of the Cano Limon field, where it produces its own crude and also extracts the share belonging to partner Ecopetrol, meaning both have been immediately affected by the pipeline’s closure.
Bomb attacks on Colombia’s pipelines increased in 2013 to 259, the highest in a decade and a 72 percent jump from 2012, according to Defense Ministry data. Leftist rebels say wealth generated in the sector benefits the foreign oil companies producing crude and not the local population.
Oil is Colombia’s most valuable export with around 1 million barrels per day produced in 2013, but finding new reserves to boost the 2.38 billion barrels available has become more urgent as production speeds up. (Additional reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston; Editing by Andre Grenon and Steve Orlofsky)