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Pumping has been turned off for the past four days at Colombia's second-longest oil pipeline, the Cano Limon, following another bomb attack by leftist guerrillas, an official at national oil company Ecopetrol (ECOPETROL.BO, EC) said Tuesday.
The Ecopetrol official said Saturday's dynamite explosion was the third such attack this month on the pipeline, which normally pumps about 80,000 barrels a day. The official said it wasn't clear when pumping would resume, but he said repair crews have been dispatched.
The Cano Limon, operated by Ecopetrol, pumps oil from a field in northeastern Colombia, also called the Cano Limon, that Is controlled by Ecopetrol and U.S.-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY).
The news bodes ill for Colombia's efforts to ramp up oil production in March and break the one-million-barrel-a-day mark at which it has been aiming over the past several months. Last month, Colombia produced 896,000 barrels of crude oil a day, its lowest monthly average since September and 7% less than November's record output of 965,000 barrels a day.
When February's data were released, the Mines and Energy Ministry specifically blamed problems related to the Cano Limon pipeline, which is located in Colombia's remote north and which is a favorite target of leftist rebels. The Ecopetrol official said it wasn't clear how many days the Cano Limon has been off line this month due to rebel attacks.
So far in 2012, the pipeline has been bombed at least 15 times.
It isn't clear which rebel group may have been responsible for the recent attacks. The country's main rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and another group, the ELN, are both active in the area where the 771-kilometer pipeline is located.
-By Dan Molinski, Dow Jones Newswires; 57-310-867-6542; firstname.lastname@example.org