The company holds a 35 percent stake in Puerto Gaitan, which accounts for about 20 percent of the country’s daily production, which was about 918,000 barrels in August. Mr. Restrepo said none of the company’s Colombia operations have suffered attacks.
Similar security has accompanied construction of a new pipeline, which is being guarded foot-by-foot and even from the air with military drones, Mr. Cardenas said.
The proposed pipeline is set to be the country’s longest, at 597 miles, capable of carrying 450,000 barrels daily from the oil fields in Colombia’s west to the Caribbean port of Convenas, according to Ecopetrol SA, a majority partner in the project.
Despite the patrols, the ELN in July briefly kidnapped two women working on the pipeline, releasing them 20 days later to the International Red Cross.
Mr. Pinzon announced last week that the Defense Ministry will create eight new battalions to shore up security of the nation’s infrastructure.
Each battalion will be comprised of at least 1,200 troops, and three battalions already are operating, said a high-ranking official who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to comment publicly about national security issues.
Despite the attacks and the mounting security burden, the companies say they have no intention of leaving the country.
“After $8 billion of investment,” Mr. Restrepo said, “we’re staying.”