Colombian Pipelines Attacked Again

Marxist rebels bombed Colombia's much-attacked Cano Limon oil pipeline, as conflict with the government intensified after the breakdown of peace talks. "There was an attack yesterday at four in the afternoon," a spokesman for state oil company Ecopetrol said.

Under normal circumstances, the line would take a day or two to fix, but it now depends on how easily military forces can get to area where the problem is.

The 120,000-barrel a day Cano Limon crude pipeline is a favorite target of rebels fighting in Colombia's 38 year-old war. Last year, the 490-mile pipeline was attacked a record 170 times, forcing Occidental Petroleum Corp. to twice declare force majeure on deliveries. Wednesday's attack was the 14th this year, according to Ecopetrol. Occidental lifted a force majeure on exports from Cano Limon on February 11 after a previous spate of bombings. The line is targeted by both the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia -- known by the Spanish initials FARC -- and the smaller National Liberation Army, or ELN. The two rebel groups -- which the United States designated as "terrorist organizations" attack Cano Limon as part of an extortion campaign to fund their uprising.

The government on Thursday moved to retake a rebel enclave after a hijacking and abduction caused the collapse of three years of peace talks. Peace talks with FARC broke down Wednesday night after guerrillas earlier in the day hijacked a domestic airliner, forced it to land it on a rural highway, and abducted a national senator who had been on board. The U.S. government has said it would ask Congress for $98 million to equip and train a Colombian army brigade to guard the Cano Limon pipeline, whose oil field is operated by Occidental.

Ecopetrol receives 50 percent of the production from Cano Limon, which is Colombia's second-largest oil pipeline. Occidental receives 35 percent and the remaining 15 percent goes to Spanish-Argentine firm Repsol . Cano Limon provides Occidental with about 5 percent of its world production.


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