BOGOTA – Nearly 100 attacks by leftist rebels on Colombian oil infrastructure this year have cost the Andean nation roughly 1 trillion pesos ($531 million), an industry group said.
The president of the Colombian Petroleum Association, Francisco Jose Lloreda, said the attacks are causing a drop in royalty payments to towns and thus reducing the funds available for education, health and sanitation projects.
“It’s equivalent to around a trillion pesos. That’s without counting the cost of repairing (crude) transport infrastructure,” Lloreda added.
He called on the government to provide security guarantees irrespective of whether a peace deal is reached with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group in talks in Havana dating back to 2012.
“With or without an agreement with the FARC and ELN, the nation must come together to support this industry,” Lloreda said.
The National Liberation Army, a much smaller leftist rebel group known as the ELN, has been engaged since January in an “exploratory” dialogue with the government with a view to entering into its own peace process with President Juan Manuel Santos’ administration.
The FARC and ELN have carried out numerous attacks in recent months on oil infrastructure, particularly pipelines and tanker trucks in the northern provinces of Arauca and Norte de Santander, which border Venezuela, and in Putumayo, which borders Ecuador.
The guerrillas have forced caravans of tanker trucks to dump their crude on the roads and those spills are contaminating water sources that serve nearby communities.