Continuing Erosion in Piedra Fina Ecuador Lead to 485-km Crude Pipeline Breakdown

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Continuing Erosion in Piedra Fina Ecuador Lead to 485-km Crude Pipeline Breakdown

Mon, 01/31/2022 - 09:33
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Flag of Ecuador (© Shutterstock/patrice6000)
Flag of Ecuador (© Shutterstock/patrice6000)

It is believed that serious and ongoing erosion in the Piedra Fina sector of Ecuador, situated south of San Francisco de Asís, led rocks to fall on the heavy OCP Ecuador crude oil pipeline. The pipeline's technical staff were trying to contain the damage.  

OCP has indicated that the rupture occurred in an area where the pipe is not directly exposed to rivers, and the staff has worked intensely to avoid any risk of it reaching its water areas. Still indigenous organisations like CONFENIAE said communities were already being affected.

The regressive erosion, which has been advancing since 2020 through the course of the Coca River and its tributaries, has threatened, in addition to the oil pipelines, the water intake of the largest hydroelectric plant in the Andean country and a main road.    

Neither OCP Ecuador nor the Ministry of Energy have confirmed the amount of crude that would have been spilled after the incident.  OCP Ecuador has employed measures to make sure neither the flow of oil nor the country's export of crude is affected, it said.

The regressive erosion, which has been advancing since 2020 through the course of the Coca River and its tributaries, has threatened, in addition to the oil pipelines, the water intake of the largest hydroelectric plant in the Andean country. The company also said that the reception of crude oil and its exports have not been suspended.

The OCP pipeline is 485 kilometers long and can transport 450,000 barrels of oil per day, but before the incident it was operating below capacity. In April 2020, it suffered a break, along with the state-owned SOTE, due to the effects of erosion that spilled several barrels of crude oil, affecting Amazonian communities.

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