Ecuador confirms 1,200 barrel oil spill on northwest coast | Oil and Gas News

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State-owned company Petroecuador says it is investigating the cause of the spill, which contaminated about 4km (2.5 miles) of beach.

Authorities in the South American country of Ecuador have confirmed that an oil spill spread around 1,200 barrels into the Pacific Ocean, polluting kilometers of coastline.

Rafael Armendariz, the transport manager of the state oil company Petroecuador, confirmed on Thursday that the incident happened a day earlier when a tank in a marine terminal in the port of Esmeraldas exceeded its capacity.

“It is estimated that around 1,200 barrels were spilled,” Armendariz said at a press conference. “They didn’t all fall on the beach. The pool was part of the Petroecuador facilities.

View of an oil refinery, with a barrel marked with the Petroecuador logo.
The spill occurred at Petroecuador’s state refinery in Esmeraldas, affecting nearby beaches [File: Daniel Tapia/Reuters]

About half of the crude was spilled out of Petroecuador facilities, spreading over about 4km (2.5 miles) of Las Palmas Beach, a popular destination for leisure and tourists.

The cause of the spill is under investigation. General Manager Ramon Correa said problems such as negligence, mechanical damage or sabotage could not be ruled out yet.

Esmeraldas is about 150km (93 miles) south of Ecuador’s northern border with Colombia. The company says it has contained 90 percent of the spill’s impact on land and 60 percent at sea through initial cleanup efforts.

Environment Minister Jose Davalos told Ecuavisa TV station that the spill could affect wildlife such as birds and shellfish. He expected the cleanup to take about a week.

Davalos noted that he is awaiting an assessment from Petroecuador before deciding on appropriate punishments.

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