Fundación ProAves – por la conservación en el país de las aves

Oil pipeline theft threatens biodiversity in the Nariño

28 February, 2011


Friday 8 October 2010.

The El Pangan Bird Reserve located in the municipality of Barbacoas, Nariño, is the most important protected area in the foothills of the Choco Hotspot. Over 20.000 acres of exceptionally diverse rainforests protect countless endemic and threatened species.

Unfortunately a major EcoPetrol oil pipeline flows beside the reserve on route from the Colombian Amazon to the Pacific coastal port of Tumaco. At particular points along the pipeline, especially in El Barro, Mirador de tajadas, Junín y la Guarapería, all close to the reserve, people have established illegal fuel extraction and trafficking sites.

Using crude facilities in the forest, the oil is processed to gasoline and sold to coca growers to process coca leaves into cocaine paste. Gasoline is much more expensive in Colombia than in the USA, so the profits are great and the problem is growing!

The environmental impact of this problem is growing fast, especially as side products from the rudimentary oil refining process in “kitchens” are released directly into streams and rivers.


Traps to prevent the flow of oil.

Faced with his situation Ecopetrol and ProAves have joined forces for the recovery of several areas that have been damaged by oil spills. Ecopetrol has sealed off a number of points used for the extraction of oil, while going forward with recovery processes and impact mitigation in areas where leaks are found.

Among the measures mentioned are the installation of river traps that allow the passage of water, stopping the passage of oil and making it easier to collect and the affected land is treated with lime, which helps to partially recover the contaminated soil and vegetation.


Ecopetrol treated areas with lime to neutralize the oil.

It is important to emphasize the importance of creating, building and strengthening strategic alliances with organizations and the community, who with their commitment contribute to stopping the oil theft and the recovery of environment. Many people in the communities of El Barro, Mirador de Tajadas, Junín y la Guarapería have helped locate spills and acted promptly to mitigate further environmental impacts.