July 17, 2018 / 6:24 PM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-Colombia's Cano Limon pipeline restarts pumping after 180 days -sources

(Adds detail on ELN, attacks)

BOGOTA, July 17 (Reuters) - Pumping through the Colombia’s Cano Limon-Covenas oil pipeline restarted after a 180-day stoppage due to repeated attacks by Marxist ELN rebels, military and industry sources said on Tuesday.

The 485-mile (780-km) pipeline has been attacked 58 times this year by the National Liberation Army (ELN), the country’s largest active guerrilla group, according to military sources.

Apart from bombing damage, 41 illegal valves used to steal crude were found on the pipeline, said state-owned Ecopetrol SA , which owns the pipeline via its subsidiary Cenit.

Pumping began on July 10, the sources said.

Although this is one of the most extensive paralyses since the pipeline opened in the mid-1980s, activity in the Cano Limon field, operated by Occidental Petroleum Corp and located in the northern Arauca province, has not been affected.

Crude from the field had been transported using a smaller pipeline, which is still at risk of attack, sources said.

Ecopetrol which produces around 60 percent of Colombia’s 866,000 barrels a day of oil.

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

Outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos and the ELN launched peace negotiations in 2017 but the talks, which shifted from Ecuador to Cuba in May, have been fraught. The guerrillas stepped up their attacks after the end of a bilateral ceasefire in January.

President-elect Ivan Duque, who was voted in last month, has said he will halt the talks unless the ELN declares a unilateral ceasefire and concentrates its forces into a single area.

Cano Limon has been bombed more than 1,400 times during its 32-year history. The attacks have kept it offline for the equivalent of 11 years and spilled about 2 million barrels of crude. (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta Writing by Helen Murphy Editing by Susan Thomas and Lisa Shumaker)

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