November 8, 2018 / 10:27 PM / 6 days ago

Colombia's Ecopetrol to mount cleanup after Cano-Limon bombing

BOGOTA, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Colombia’s state-run oil company Ecopetrol will carry out a cleanup operation after a bomb attack on the Cano Limon pipeline on Thursday sparked a forest fire and spilled crude into a waterway, the company said.

The attack is the 77th this year on the 485-mile (780-km) pipeline, which has been out of service for much of 2018 because of bombings and illegal taps. The pipeline, which can transport up to 210,000 barrels per day, was not functioning at the time of the attack, which followed one on Oct. 24.

Cleanup personnel will begin work on close to a kilometer of contaminated water in a canal in Canaguata, in Boyaca province, as soon as the army deems it safe, the company said.

The fire in a nearby section of forest continues to burn, sending black columns of smoke skyward, a video released by Ecopetrol showed.

The regular bombings have not affected exports or production at the Cano Limon field, operated by Occidental Petroleum , because crude can be moved through a second, nearby pipeline.

The company did not name the group responsible for the bombing but a military source blamed the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group.

The ELN, considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union, has about 1,500 combatants and opposes multinational companies, claiming they seize natural resources without benefiting Colombians.

The ELN and the administration of former President Juan Manuel Santos began peace talks in February 2017, but current right-wing President Ivan Duque has said he will not continue the dialogue until the group frees all its hostages and ceases criminal activities. (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Richard Chang)

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