Ecuador main oil pipeline paralyzed by blast

Agence France-Presse
25 January, 2001

Quito--Jan. 25--Unidentified assailants blew up a stretch of Ecuador's main oil pipeline early Thursday, paralyzing the movement of crude to the Pacific port of Balao, the president of the state oil company Petroecuador said.

The bad news came even as the South American country was struggling with an oil spill threatening flora and fauna in its unique Gapalagos archipelago.

Petroecuador president Rodolfo Barniol said a dynamite attack destroyed a stretch of the pipeline, which runs from the Amazon basin region west to the Pacific coast, outside the small town of Alluriquin, 110 kilometers (68 miles) southwest of Quito.

"We estimate that between 5,000 and 10,000 barrels of crude have been lost" already, Barniol said, adding that he did not know who was responsible or their motive.

"It was an attack by outsiders" as opposed to an explosion, Barniol said, adding that the movement of oil was interrupted from 0815 GMT.

Barniol added that much of the oil was running into the fast-flowing Toachi River. "Barriers have been put in place to try to stop some of the oil down river, because the current is swift in that area," he said.

The Petroecuador chief noted that the attack "was very similar to others that have taken place" in the past against the pipeline, which stretches from the oilfields of Lago Agrio in Sucumbios province, in the northeast, to Balao on the Pacific coast.

The pipeline was hit twice in December 2000, sustaining losses of 6,300 barrels of crude. End

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