Pumping at Colombia's second-largest oil pipeline suspended after attacks

Pumping at Colombia's second-largest oil pipeline has been suspended following a series of attacks by suspected guerrillas, authorities said Friday.

Presumed rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, bombed the Cano Limon pipeline three times this week, once Monday and twice Tuesday, said the governor of Norte de Santander, Luis Miguel Morelli. Pumping on the pipeline has been halted since Tuesday.

The Cano Limon pipeline carries an average of 90,000 barrels of oil a day and runs from Colombia's oil-rich eastern plains, which include the Cano Limon oil field run by Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum Corp., to the country's Caribbean coast.

Morelli said repair teams hoped to have the pipeline, operated by state-owned oil company Ecopetrol, running again Monday.

The oil industry has long been a favorite target for leftist rebels who oppose the exploitation of Colombia's resources by foreign companies. Further, by disrupting oil production rebels reduce the central government's income and ability to fund the military as it fights the country's four-decade civil war.

Oil is Colombia's chief export, accounting for about a quarter of all legal sales abroad.

After the United States provided nearly US$100 million (Ђ78 million) to beef up protection along the pipeline, attacks on Cano Limon fell from a record 170 bombings in 2001 to fewer than 20 last year, reports AP.