Oil exports suspended following bridge collapse that damaged Amazon pipelines

Feb 24, 2023 | 6 comments

Ecuador has temporarily halted oil exports due to the collapse of a bridge on the Rio Marker that damaged nearby pipelines. Energy Minister Fernando Santos granted the request of state-owned oil company Petroecuador and declared force majeure to protect the company from sanctions by foreign oil buyers.

Santos says he expects the suspension of exports to last about two weeks while repairs are made.

Damage to oil pipelines occurred due the collapse of a bridge on the Rio Marker.

On Wednesday, Petroecuador and private pipeline operator OCP suspended pipeline operations as a preventative measure after the bridge in Napo Province failed. Both companies said the collapse and surrounding erosion caused minor oil spills but no environmental damage.

Petroecuador halted flow in its SOTE crude pipeline and its Shushufindi polyduct after the bridge collapse, which is next to Petroecuador’s facilities in Ecuador’s Amazon region.

“A Petroecuador multidisciplinary team is working on a physical evaluation of both transport infrastructures with a view to taking necessary corrective action in the short term,” Petroecuador said, adding the suspension would head off any potential environmental damage.

The 497-kilometer (310-mile) SOTE has the capacity to transport 360,000 barrels per day of crude through the Amazonia, Sierra and Costa regions of the country, supplying a marine terminal and refinery in Esmeraldas.

The company’s other operations and provision of fuel are functioning normally but at reduced capacity, it added.

Later in the afternoon OCP said in its own statement it has halted pumping, saying the bridge collapse was the result of heavy rains and occurred in an area where erosion is an ongoing problem.

“We have immediately activated the emergency response plan, halting the pumping of crude and closing the blockage valve, located some 800 meters from the bridge. The pipeline has not ruptured,” OCP said.

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