SOTE Oil Pipeline

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

SOTE Oil Pipeline, also known as Sistema de Oleoducto Transecuatoriano or Trans-Ecuadorian Pipeline System, is an oil pipeline in Ecuador.[1]


The Transecuadorian Pipeline System (SOTE) runs from Petroecuador's Lago Agrio station just east of Nueva Loja (Sucumbios province) to the OCP Marine Terminal and Esmeraldas Refinery in the coastal city of Esmeraldas. The pipeline traverses three natural regions of the country: Amazon, Sierra and Costa. It crosses the Andes mountain range near Virgen de Papallacta, where it reaches its maximum altitude of 4,064 meters.[2]

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Project Details

  • Operator: Petroecuador
  • Current capacity: 360,000 barrels per day[3]
  • Proposed capacity:
  • Length: 497.7 km / 309.3 mi[3]
  • Oil source: Amazonas
  • Status: Operating
  • Start Year: 1972


The pipeline delivers crude from the Amazonas region to the OCP Marine Terminal and Esmeraldas Refinery for export. Construction of the pipeline began in 2001 and it was commissioned in 2003.[1] Shortly after the discovery of oil in the eastern portion of Ecuador in the Amazon region in 1967, the construction of the Trans-Ecuadorian Pipeline system (SOTE) was planned. The pipeline commenced in 1972.[2] The pipeline originally had a capacity of 250,000 bpd. Because of increased crude-oil production in the Oriente, pipeline capacity was raised to 300,000 b/d in 1985 and to 325,000 b/d in 1992 by installation of additional pumping units in the existing pump stations.[4]The pipeline's current capacity is 360,000 b/d.[5]

Incidents and Spills

In 1987, two earthquakes measuring 6.1 and 6.9 in magnitude caused severe landslides near the El Reventador volcano. Approximately 6.5 miles of the pipeline was completely destroyed by the landslides and an additional 10 miles was damaged by mudflows. The pipeline bridge crossing the Aquarico River was swept away by the swollen river.[6]

A May 31, 2013 landslide ruptured the pipeline in the Andean foothills near the Reventador Volcano, dumping some 11,000 barrels worth -- 420,000 gallons -- of crude oil into the Coca River, which in turn flows into the Napo River, a major tributary of the Amazon. The spill subsequently threatened communities in both Brazil and Peru downstream. As it flowed downstream, the slick temporarily contaminated the drinking water of the 80,000 people living in the Ecuadorean city of Coca.[7]

In April 2020, a landslide along the Río Coca in the Ecuadorian Amazon ruptured the pipeline, requiring construction of a new 1.75 km section to detour around the slide. Ecuador was forced to suspend oil exports for nearly a month as crews worked around the clock to clean up the spill and restore service by early May.[8][9]


Environmentalists have long been concerned about the vulnerability of the SOTE oil pipeline and the neighboring OCP pipeline to earthquakes and landslides, citing the April 2020 rupture of both pipelines as evidence of the potential for serious ecological consequences.[10]

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 SOTE Oil Pipeline , A Barrel Full, accessed September 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 Oil Pipeline Management of Petroecuador (SOTE) Petroecuador, accessed November 2017
  3. 3.0 3.1 "SOTE, 46 años, el motor de la economía del país". EP PETROECUADOR. Retrieved 2020-07-01.
  4. Ecuador Plans Expanded Crude-Oil Line. Oil & Gas Journal, January 23, 1995
  5. "Estatal Petroecuador concluye la reparación de oleoducto SOTE". Reuters. May 2, 2020.
  6. Ecuador Earthquake of March 5, 1987, EERI Special Earthquake Report, March 5, 1987
  7. Ecuador oil spill threatens Brazil and Peru, CBS, June 11, 2013
  8. "OCP construye variante de oleoducto tras una rotura en la Amazonía". El Comercio. April 13, 2020.
  9. "Sistema de Oleoducto Transecuatoriano SOTE vuelve al 100 % de su capacidad operativa". El Universo. May 2, 2020.
  10. "Ecuador: la rotura del oleoducto OCP revela el impacto de construir en zonas de alto riesgo La rotura del OCP en Ecuador: ¿un riesgo mal calculado?". Mongabay Latam. May 4, 2020.

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