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Colombia bypasses oft-attacked oil pipeline

12 May 2017 23:06 (+01:00 GMT)
Colombia bypasses oft-attacked oil pipeline

Bogota, 12 May (Argus) — Colombia´s state-controlled Ecopetrol reversed one of its key crude pipelines so it can bypass a connected artery that is frequently bombed by anti-government rebels.

The reversal of the 120,000 b/d Bicentenario pipeline frees up the flow of 29°API crude from US Occidental's 50,000 b/d Caño Limón oil field. The flow is often impeded because of attacks against the 220,000 b/d Caño Limón-Coveñas line. The attacks usually occur between the Banadia connection with the Bicentenario and Coveñas.

The 229.3km (142.5mi) Bicentenario line previously transported medium sour crude from Araguaney to Banadia. With the reversal, the Caño Limón crude can now flow south to connect into the 590,000 b/d Ocensa transport system.

The Caño Limón-Coveñas and Ocensa lines both terminate at the oil port of Coveñas, but Ocensa is less vulnerable to attack because it is underground.

Bicentenario, which started up in 2013-14, is operated by Oleoducto de Los Llanos (ODL), which Ecopetrol controls through its midstream unit Cenit with a 55.97pc stake. Canadian independent Pacific Exploration and Production holds 43.02pc and junior independents Canacol and Vetra hold the remainder.

The current leg of the Bicentenario line is designed to be the first of three stages that will culminate in a 1,000km line with 450,000 b/d of capacity running parallel to Cano Limon-Covenas and terminating at Coveñas.

The pipeline reversal is part of a wider initiative by Ecopetrol "to transport higher viscosity crude to Coveñas port… in the coming weeks we expect to finalize all infrastructure adjustments in order to have a continuous flow of heavy crude to the port," Cenit chief executive Luisa Lafaurie said on 12 May.

Rebel attacks attributed to Colombia´s second largest rebel army ELN have kept the Caño Limón-Coveñas line out of service for around 57 days in the year-to-date.

In a Havana, Cuba-based meeting promoted by Colombia's government, ELN negotiators and main rebel group Farc yesterday started discussions on a potential joint peace process.

Farc fighters began demobilization at UN-monitored concentration zones on 1 December 2016 after Colombia's congress passed a controversial, revised peace agreement in November. Farc has 180 days to lay down its arms.

The ELN continues to clash with Colombian security forces despite separate Ecuador-based peace negotiations that started on 7 February.

Though both groups share Marxist revolutionary ideology, the two groups have separate grievances with the Colombian state, against which they have been fighting since the 1960s.

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