The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ecuador's No. 2 oil pipeline down after rupture

By Alonso Soto

QUITO, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Ecuador's second largest oil pipeline halted pumping Wednesday morning after the line was ruptured, but it had enough stock to cover February export commitments, the line administrator said.

Pedro Lopez, spokesman for the firm that administers the private, 130,000-barrel-per-day OCP pipeline, said the damage was being evaluated to determine when the line could restart operations.

The pipeline carries mostly heavy crude to the Pacific coast from private oil companies operating in the OPEC nation and an affiliate of state oil company Petroecuador.

"We are still evaluating the conditions of the pipeline ... We have no estimates to when the line can restart pumping," said Lopez, adding that the oil spill was contained.

Douglas Beltman, an environmental scientist on the scene, said a a tick layer of crude was covering a nearby river in the Amazonia province of Napo, but it was too early to measure the magnitude of the spill.

"The river was completely covered with oil from bank to bank," said Beltman, who is evaluating oil pollution in the Amazon for indigenous and peasants suing oil major Chevron Corp (CVX.N). "It looked like a bad spill."

The jungle dwellers accuse Chevron of polluting the jungle and damaging their health by dumping 18 billion gallons (68 billion liters) of contaminated water from 1972 and 1992. Chevron denies any wrongdoing.

Repeated oil spills are a threat to rare species of jaguars and river dolphins in the Amazon jungle where most of the country's oil operations are located.

Ecuador's largest pipeline, the state-run 360,000-bpd oil pipeline, was operating normally, an oil company official told Reuters.

Both lines run alongside each other in some areas on their way to a Pacific Ocean port.

Heavy rains across the country have triggered a slew of mudslides in areas where both pipelines travel.

Ecuador, South America's No. 5 oil producer, produces around 500,000 bpd, extracted almost evenly by Petroecuador and foreign oil companies. Most of Ecuador's crude is exported to the United States.

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