Colombia rebel group to halt attacks for peace vote

OREANDA-NEWS. September 28, 2016. Colombia's second largest rebel group ELN said it is halting military offensives to facilitate a 2 October plebiscite on a peace accord signed yesterday by the government and the main rebel group Farc.

"We will not carry out military actions between 30 September and 5 October, so that people can participate freely in the plebiscite," ELN said yesterday.

The halt in military action could signal greater security for oil companies operating in Colombia. Although the 10,000-member Farc has largely refrained from pipeline bombings for over a year, the 2,000-member ELN continues to target oil infrastructure.

State-controlled Ecopetrol restarted the 220,000 b/d Cano Limon-Cove?as crude pipeline on 10 September after the most recent ELN attack.

ELN regularly targets the line, which runs through restive Arauca and Norte de Santander provinces in eastern Colombia along the Venezuelan border.

Cano Limon-Cove?as transports crude from US Occidental's Cano Limon complex and also receives other Llanos basin crude from the 120,000 b/d Bicentenario pipeline.

Ecopetrol says all pipelines are currently operating normally except the 85,000 b/d Transandino, which is out of service for maintenance.

Farc leader Rodrigo Londo?o, who is also known as Timochenko or Timole?n, and President Juan Manuel Santos signed the peace agreement yesterday in a high-profile ceremony in Cartagena.

On 29 August, Farc and Colombian military formally started a bilateral ceasefire. In mid-September, Farc members voted in favor of the agreement.

Two recent polls predict that more than 60pc of Colombians will vote in favor of the agreement.

If the polls bear out, Farc will begin demobilizing and laying down arms in special transitional zones known as ZVTNs. Of the 23 zones, eight have oil and gas activity, according to oil chamber Campetrol.

Farc and the Santos government have been negotiating the terms of a peace deal since November 2012.

In March 2016, ELN and the Santos government finalized an agenda and structure for talks, but formal negotiations have not yet started.