Ocensa Oil Pipeline

From Global Energy Monitor


This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.

Ocensa Oil Pipeline, also known as Oleoducto Central or Oleoducto Central de Colombia, is an oil pipeline in Colombia.[1]


The pipeline runs from Cupiagua (Casanare department) to Coveñas (Sucre department), Colombia.[2]

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Project Details

  • Operator: Oleoducto Central S.A. (OCENSA)[3]
  • Owner: Cenit SAS (72.65%)[4][5][6], AI Candelaria Spain SA (27.35%)[7]
  • Parent Company: Ecopetrol SA (72.65%)[4][8][9][10], I Squared Capital (13.675%)[11][12], Grupo Romero (13.675%)[11][12]
  • Current capacity: 745,000 barrels per day[8]
  • Length: 848 km[8][13]
  • Diameter: 30 inches, 36 inches[3]
  • Oil source: Cusiana and Cupiagua oilfields, Colombia[3]
  • Status: Operating
  • Start Year: 1997[14]


Colombia's Ocensa oil pipeline runs from the Cusiana and Cupiagua fields in the Llanos basin to the port of Coveñas on the Caribbean coast. The 848-km pipeline, comprising 836 km of underground pipeline and 12 km of undersea pipeline,[13] has a capacity of 745,000 barrels per day[8], accounting for around 75% of total Colombia oil production.[15][16] Colombia's state oil company Ecopetrol and its subsidiary Cenit, hold a controlling share in the pipeline.[8][17]


The 848-kilometre Ocensa pipeline starts onshore at the Cusiana Oil Field and Cupiagua Oil Field and terminates at the port in Coveñas on the Caribbean coast of Colombia.[18] The pipeline passes through passes through the eastern and central Cordilleras of the Andes, a zone of Humid Tropical Forest, with great biodiversity with various uses to agriculture, forestry and fishing. This zone is medium and high, with average temperatures at 24 degrees and rainfall between 1,500 mm and 2,500 mm per annum.[19] The pipeline also crosses Colombia's two largest waterways, the Magdalena and Cauca Rivers, while passing through 42 municipalities.[14]


When the pipeline commenced in 1997, the ownership of the pipeline was divided among six corporations. TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) together with IPL Energy shared a 35% ownership position and managed the operational aspects of the company. Ecopetrol owned 25%, British Petroleum 15.2%, Total 15.2%, and Triton Energy 9.6%.[14]

As of 2017, the Ocensa Oil Pipeline is owned by three different companies. 72.65% of the pipeline is owned by Ecopetrol through its wholly-owned midstream subsidiary, Cenit SAS. The remaining stakes are owned 22.35% by Advent International and 5% by Darby Overseas (a subsidiary of Franklin Templeton), both private equity firms. Advent purchased its stake in December 2013 from long-time owner/shippers Total SA, Repsol Oil & Gas Canada Inc. formerly Talisman Energy Inc., and CEPSA, a Spanish refining subsidiary of IPIC, an investment fund of the government of Abu Dhabi.[20][21] Advent's purchase of Talisman's, Total's, and CEPSA's shares cost $1.1 billion[22]

In February 2020, Advent International sold its entire 22.4% interest in the pipeline to I Squared Capital.[15][23]

In May 2021, Darby International Capital sold their 5% interest in the pipeline to Al Candelaria (Spain).[7]

Controversy and Incidents

Colombian farmers and lawyers asserted that BP failed to obey environmental safety procedures during the construction of the pipeline. The farmers and lawyers alleged that the pipeline had caused severe damage and erosion to their lands' soil and groundwater, causing crops to fail, livestock to die off, contaminating drinking water, and making fish ponds unsustainable. A scientific investigation which followed found that BP failed to take proper measures in protecting topsoil when earth was moved during the construction process and failed to prepare the soil correctly for construction. Farmers also alleged that the environmental impact study was woefully inadequate. [24]

In addition to the environmental problems caused by the pipeline's construction, peasants have suffered physical and social harm form government paramilitaries and private security forces providing security for the pipeline. A security border of 100 metres was placed on either side of the pipeline while no economic activity could take place within this 200 metre wide corridor in an attempt to prevent guerrilla fighters from sabotaging the pipeline. Peasants received no compensation for the land that was expropriated for the pipeline's security, while what land they still had was divided in two and no longer workable. The security forces themselves, many of them from the private sector, engaged in intelligence operations and forms of anti-insurgency in which civilians were harmed and even killed.[19][25]

In December 2018 the Supreme Court of Colombia found that the pipeline's owners were responsible for an October 1998 spill that caused 22,000 barrels of oil to contaminate the town of Machuca, and which resulted in numerous deaths and injuries.[26]

Legal Cases

In the case of Pedro Emiro Florez Arroyo & Others vs. Equion Energia Limited (formerly known as BP Exploration Company (Colombia) Limited), over 74 farmers filed a class action lawsuit against BP, claiming the Ocensa Pipeline caused significant damage to their lands. The claims themselves focused on the reduction in the economic capacity of the farms, such as areas available for pasture rental, and specific losses, such as loss of cattle. There were late and unsuccessful attempts to introduce new claims for costs of reinstatement of the land and a general damage claim. Ultimately, the farmers lost their case in the UK court system.[27][28]

Articles and resources


  1. Ocensa Oil Pipeline , Wikipedia, accessed September 2017
  2. "El oleoducto más largo de Colombia celebra sus 25 años en Coveñas". El Universal. June 25, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "D&E-CRUDOS-MME-481-2017 (pp 39, 40, 43)" (PDF). Ministerio de Minas y Energía. December 18, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Special Group Report 2021 - Integrated Sustainable Management Report (p 30)" (PDF). Ecopetrol SA. March 22, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. "Mapa de infraestructura petrolera en Colombia" (PDF). Cenit Transporte y Logística de Hidrocarburos. Retrieved 2023-03-04.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. "Ecopetrol S.A. announces agreement between its subsidiaries Cenit and Bicentenario and Frontera". PR Newswire. November 17, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Darby International Capital Sells Stake in Ocensa". LAVCA | The Association for Private Capital Investment in Latin America. 2021-05-25. Retrieved 2021-06-17.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 "Ecopetrol S.A. 2021 Form 20-F (pp 48, 65, 99)". US Securities & Exchange Commission. April 25, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. "AI Candelaria's Ratings Unaffected by ISQ and GR Acquisition Announcement". Fitch Ratings. February 11, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. "Fitch Affirms Ocensa IDR at BBB Outlook". www.fitchratings.com. Retrieved 2021-06-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Research Update: A.I. Candelaria Spain's $700 Million Senior Secured Notes Affirmed At 'BB-' On New Shareholders". S&P Global Ratings’ Credit Research. February 10, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Offering Memorandum: 7.500% Senior Secured Notes due 2028". AI Candelaria (Spain), S.A. July 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Nuestro Sistema". Ocensa. Retrieved 2020-06-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Ken M. Topolinsky, German D. Ordofiez R., Colombian Crude Export System Begins Full Operation, International Pipeline Conference — Volume I, 1998
  15. 15.0 15.1 "I Squared Capital acquires an interest in the OCENSA pipeline in Colombia". Business Wire. February 10, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. "Intercambio de socios extranjeros en Ocensa". Portafolio. February 10, 2020.
  17. Oleoducto Central S.A., BNamericas, accessed October 2017
  18. Ocensa Oil Pipeline, A Barrel Full, accessed October 2017
  19. 19.0 19.1 BP's Colombian Pipeline Subsidiaries Have Driven Peasants Off Their Land, Colombia Solidarity Campaign, September 9, 2008
  20. Moody's affirms Ocensa's Baa3 ratings; changes outlook to negative, Moody's, May 4, 2016
  21. Christopher E. Smith, Talisman sells stake in Ocensa Colombia oil pipeline, Oil & Gas Journal, December 10, 2013
  22. PE firm Advent to buy Ocensa oil pipeline stake for $1.1 billion, Reuters, November 13, 2013
  23. "Advent International sells its stake in Ocensa - Advent International". Advent International. February 11, 2020.
  24. Diane Taylor, BP oil spill: Colombian farmers sue for negligence, The Guardian, January 11, 2011
  25. Michael Gillard, Ignacio Gomez and Melissa Jones, BP hands 'tarred in pipeline dirty war', The Guardian, October 17, 1998
  26. Corte Suprema condena a Ocensa por masacre de Machuca, El Espectador, Dec. 18, 2019
  27. Judgment Handed Down in Long-running Class Action Regarding the Ocensa Pipeline in Colombia, Herbert Smith Freehills Litigation notes, accessed October 2017
  28. Pedro Emiro Florez Arroyo & Others vs. Equion Energia Limited (formerly known as BP Exploration Company (Colombia) Limited), England and Wales High Court, July 27, 2016

Related GEM.wiki articles

External resources

External articles

Wikipedia also has an article on Ocensa Pipeline (Ocensa Pipeline). This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License].