Colombia: Caño-Limón pipeline blown up —again

Colombia’s Caño-Limón oil pipeline was bombed by presumed FARC guerillas Jan. 20—with pumping still halted following a similar attack one week ago, the national oil company Ecopetrol said. The new rupture, at Convención in Norte de Santander department near the Venezuelan border, has local communities worried about an oil slick that is advancing on the Río Catatumbo. Authorities are racing to contain the oil before it contaminates the river. Two days earlier, a blast ruptured the smaller Zulia-Ayacucho pipeline through the region, also threatening the Catatumbo. The attacks come amid a new FARC offensive in Norte de Santander, which included a car bomb attack in Tibu that killed three civilians.

The Caño-Limón pipeline—which can pump 220,000 barrels a day of crude but which over the past year has averaged closer to 80,000 barrels a day—links Occidental Petroleum’s oilfields of that name with the Caribbean coast. Jointly run by Oxy and Ecopetrol, it is a frequent target of guerilla attack. (Dow Jones, RCN Radio, Notimex, Jan. 20; RCN Radio, EFE, Jan. 18)

Oil workers meanwhile continue to come under attack from presumed right-wing paramilitary forces. On Jan. 17, an oil union leader and his wife were killed in front of their children in southern Putamayo department. Mauricio Arrendondo and his wife Janeth Ordoñez Carlosama were assassinated during the night by two hitmen at their home in the town of Puerto Asis, according to a statement by the USO trade union federation. Arrendondo worked for petroleum service company PEI Energy. On Jan. 13, he had taken part in a regional forum on the impact of the petroleum industry in Putamayo. USO issued a statement accusing Ecopetrol and the Colombian state of complicity in the double murder for not heeding numerous death threats against oil workers in the region. (Colombia Reports, Jan. 19)

See our last posts on Colombia, the armed conflict and the labor struggle.