Fuel shortage: KPC speaks

December 19, 2008
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 19 – The Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) has blamed the current fuel shortage being experienced in various parts of the country on recurrent power outages along its network.

KPC Managing Director George Okungu complained on Friday that the frequent power failures coupled with the vandalism of its communication cables had been forcing them to shut down their systems, making it impossible to pump any petroleum products during such times.

“In addition to the above power failures, we experienced high incoming line voltages which triggered alarms on 132kV/6.6kV transformers and hence did not permit running of the pumps. Any loss of time when we stop pumping has got cumulative supply consequences,” he explained.

He claimed the power failures experienced in November and December had led to a loss of Sh45 million, a lost throughput of over 30 million litres of fuel (which had not been transported into the system) as well as equipment breakdown.

Mr Okungu also explained that the company could not put in place back-up measures such as generators as the pumping exercise requires close to two Megawatts to carry out.

He defended KPC against claims that the shortage had resulted from inefficiency of the recently-commissioned Mombasa-Nairobi oil pipeline saying the company was currently integrating the new pumps into the existing network.

The line, which has the installed capacity of 880,000m ³ per hour to cater for demand of the period 2009 to 2017, was commissioned on November 26 but the contractor is said to be carrying out system alignment to ensure its smooth running.

Mr Okungu called on the government to ensure stable power supply which would enable them to pump at a capacity of 600 litres per hour and stock up in case of such blackouts in the future.

“If we have stable power, we will align our system so that we get the maximum benefit of the installed capacity. This will take about one or two months and it requires (power stability),” he appealed.

At the same time, KPC said there was a two-day stock for jet fuel and expressed confidence that this would be enough ‘unless there is a failure in the system or power.’

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