State-owned PetroEcuador and private consortium OCP Ecuador stopped operations on the country's two major crude pipelines today as a preventative measure because of a landslide in the Amazonian province of Napo.
The landslide caused a bridge that ran alongside the two pipelines where they cross the Marker river for about 800 meters (0.5 mile) in northeast Ecuador to collapse, although it did not break either the 360,000 b/d Sote and or the 450,000 b/d OCP pipeline, the companies said. The pipelines appear suspended in the air where the bridge used to cross, based on pictures provided by PetroEcuador.
Technicians for both companies are still evaluating a way to continue to pump without risking a pipeline break, but the firms did not announce when the pipelines could restart operations. Neither PetroEcuador nor the ministry of energy has announced a possible declaration of force majeure over Ecuadorian oil exports. Operations are otherwise normal, PetroEcuador said.
The pipeline stoppage comes as Ecuador is struggling to achieve its production goal for this year of 521,000 b/d. In January, the South American country reached an average of 489,560 b/d, and from 1-21 February, the daily average was 481,565 b/d, 8pc lower than the goal for 2023.
The last time Sote suspended operations was December 2021, when the pipeline had to shut because of erosion in the nearby Coca and Quijos river beds, also in Napo province. OCP had to stop at the same time, and again for 11 days in early 2022 because of two more rockslides in the same area.
From January-December 2022, Sote transported an average of 319,040 b/d, up by 6pc compared with 2021. OCP transported an average of 150,688 b/d in 2022, down 1pc compared with 2021.
The OCP Ecuador consortium is made up of CNPC subsidiary PetroOriental with 36.26pc; Argentinian Pampa Energia, 30.06pc; Repsol, 29.66pc and Perenco, 4.02pc.