Fourteenth Colombia Rebel Attack Halts Ecopetrol Pipeline
Ecopetrol SA (ECOPETL), Colombia’s largest oil company, shut a pipeline attacked for the 14th time this year by rebels targeting energy infrastructure.
Soldiers are securing a mountainous area near the Cano Limon Covenas pipeline in eastern Colombia after the attack March 18 by members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, according to a military official who can’t be identified because of army policy. The company is preparing to repair the 771-kilometer (479-mile) pipeline, said a company official who couldn’t be named due to Ecopetrol policy.
Guerrilla attacks may jeopardize Colombia’s plans to reach an oil production target of 1 million barrels a day, said Mauricio Restrepo, an analyst at brokerage Bolsa y Renta SA. Crude output slid 4.8 percent in February from January to an average of 896,000 barrels a day as attacks cut transport.
“There has been news lately about security that might make us not reach the goal,” Restrepo said today by phone from Medellin. “But the government is reacting.”
Colombia is making additional investments to guarantee security as rebels act out of “desperation,” Mines and Energy Minister Mauricio Cardenas said last week.
Ecopetrol still expects to meet production targets after 13 attacks on Cano Limon this year, Chief Executive Officer Javier Gutierrez said in an interview last week, prior to the latest assault. The pipeline carries about 70,000 barrels a day of crude from the plains of Colombia near the Venezuelan border to the Caribbean coast.
Sabotage of energy towers, pipelines, roads and bridges rose last year for the first time since 2008, according to government statistics. On March 17, guerrillas killed 11 troops guarding a roadway in the eastern Colombian province of Arauca.
Ecopetrol completed repairs from a March 11 FARC attack on the pipeline, which resulted in fires and a spill. The FARC is Colombia’s oldest guerrilla group.
Ecopetrol rose 0.2 percent to close at 5,220 pesos in Bogota.
Shares rose amid rising production and reserves, Santiago Melo, an analyst at Alianza Valores SA who doesn’t own shares, said today by phone. The brokerage has a “buy” on the stock.
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