QUITO, April 12 Ecuador's OCP pipeline has begun pumping crude again after going offline for almost four days following a breakage, the company said on Friday. The energy ministry said the breakage of the Heavy Crude Oil Pipeline, known as OCP, was unlikely to disrupt exports because two export terminals in the Pacific coast had 2.6 million barrels of crude stocks, which were enough to cover forthcoming shipments. OCP is a 475-kilometer (300-mile) pipeline with a capacity of up to 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) that links oil fields in the eastern Sucumbios region to the Pacific coast. The pipeline transports around 150,000 bpd. The pipeline suspended operations after fracturing on Monday spilling 5,500 barrels of oil in farming areas in the north-western Esmeraldas region. OCP Ecuador, the company that runs the pipeline, said it may need until August to clean up the area. "Last night at 11:56 pm (556 GMT) crude pumping in the pipeline resumed after the damaged section of the pipe was replaced," OCP Ecuador said in a statement. The incident was initially blamed on geological factors after heavy rains loosened the soil in the area. Ecuador is OPEC's smallest member and last year produced an average of 504,000 barrels of crude oil per day. OCP is controlled by several oil companies, including Spain's Repsol, France's Perenco and Brazil's Petrobras . The Andean country's largest pipeline, known as Sote, transports crude oil produced by state-run company Petroamazonas, which aims to produce 325,000 bpd on average this year. (Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Eduardo Garcia; editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)
Our top photos from the last 24 hours.