OCP Ecuador, operator of the South American country’s private oil pipeline, said on Tuesday that repairs to tubing damaged over the weekend by falling rocks will take between seven and 10 days because of new damage sustained in the same area.
A rock fall following rains in the Piedra Fina zone of Ecuador’s Amazon caused part of the OCP heavy crude pipeline to split late on Friday, causing an oil spill.
Ecuador’s environment ministry said on Monday that OCP will face legal consequences for the spill, which occurred within a protected area of the country’s rainforest. Indigenous groups who live in the area say the pollution was more extensive than OCP claimed and are demanding financial compensation for the accident.
OCP claims that less than 7,000 barrels of oil leaked from the pipeline following the first break but environmental experts say the spill was much larger
The new damage occurred on Monday near the rupture reported over the weekend, OCP said in a Tuesday statement.
“There are effects that require an intervention to achieve a safe operation,” the company said. “Technical personnel from the transport company estimate the repair of the pipeline will take between seven and 10 days from this date.”
Regressive erosion advancing along the Coca river has caused problems for both the privately operated OCP pipeline and the state-owned SOTE pipeline since 2020. As a result, in December both pipelines suspended pumping, leading the government to declare force majeure on the majority of the country’s oil exports and production contracts.