QUITO, Dec 29 (Reuters) – Ecuador’s heavy crude oil pipeline will restart its operation from December 31, after installing a new variant in its pipeline due to the advance of erosion in the Amazon region and will resume the export of Napo crude as of January 3, OCP Ecuador said on Wednesday.
On December 13, the government declared force majeure on oil exports and production contracts due to the advance of the natural phenomenon, which forced the forced interruption of pumping in the private OCP pipeline and the state SOTE pipeline and to lower production in the Andean country.
“OCP Ecuador has managed to complete the construction of the bypass ahead of time and is ready to restart operations this December 31, a week earlier than initially planned,” he explained in a statement.
“Likewise, the first export of Napo crude is expected to be carried out on January 3, 2022 through the OCP Maritime Terminal in Esmeraldas,” he added.
The new variant of the OCP has an extension of approximately 4 kilometers and is located in the Piedra Fina sector, where at the beginning of December the erosion that has been advancing since last year along the Coca river was reactivated.
For its part, the SOTE state oil pipeline, with a transportation capacity of 360,000 barrels per day (bpd) and operated by the state-owned Petroecuador, plans to complete the construction of its seventh variant and resume pumping from December 30.
The government has said that the economic impact of the emergency in Ecuador’s oil sector would amount to some 600 million dollars.
Following the emergency, Ecuador’s crude production fell on December 27 to a net 91,479 bpd from the 485,000 bpd average it reported before the incidents, according to energy ministry data.
In April 2020, both pipelines suffered a pipe rupture due to the sinking of land in the area due to the same natural phenomenon, which led the country to declare force majeure in its exports and lower its production levels.
Erosion also threatens the catchment of water from the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant, the largest in the country, and has closed a main highway connecting the capital Quito with the Amazon.
(Report by Alexandra Valencia, Edited by Manuel Farías)