Colombia: six million people deprived of gas after a giant blackout, probably caused by a volcano

Six million people were deprived of gas on Wednesday, May 24, in southwestern Colombia due to a sharp rise in temperature around the gas pipeline that serves the region. The cause is probably linked to a volcanic phenomenon, according to the gas companies affected. “Since May 24, 2023 at noon, natural gas service has been completely interrupted in the southwest of the country”, Gases de Occidente announced in a statement. The outage notably affects 1.3 million users in Cali, Colombia’s third largest city.

According to TGI, which operates the affected pipeline, the most likely cause is a “underground fire” in the area of ​​the Cerro Bravo volcano, in central Colombia. The company explained that underground temperatures “above 600°C” and “incandescent rocks” were detected in the sector where the pipe that serves the south-west of the country passes. Work to restore service could take a week, Gases de Occidente said.

Two-thirds of Colombia’s 50 million depend on gas for cooking, according to the Colombian Natural Gas Association. Images posted on social media showed people cooking over open fires, and long queues outside shops selling electric stoves. In cities using buses running on natural gas, public transport is paralyzed.

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