Colombia’s Largest Oil Pipeline Attacked by the ELN

By Dialogo
July 31, 2013

Colombia’s largest oil pipeline was hit by an explosion causing a significant oil spill in an attack blamed on leftist guerrillas, the Army said on July 29.

The 780-kilometer (485-mile) Limon-Coveñas pipeline, operated by U.S. oil firm Occidental Petroleum (Oxy), was attacked near the town of Saravena, in eastern Colombia, the regional Army commander told reporters.

The oil spill has affected the local water source and vegetation, but the attack caused no injuries, he added, saying repair work has begun under military guard.

Saravena, like a number of towns near the border with Venezuela, has a strong presence of the leftist rebel group, the National Liberation Army, or ELN.

The rebel group, Colombia’s second largest with some 2,000 fighters, claims it aims to prevent the exploitation of the country’s natural resources by foreign companies.

The ELN has expressed interest in holding peace talks with the government, along the lines of the negotiations underway in Havana with the FARC, the country’s largest leftist rebel group.

But the government has insisted that any talks would be conditioned on the group releasing hostages — which would include a Canadian engineer held since January — and abandoning the practice of kidnapping.