NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 30 – The Kenya Pipeline Corporation (KPC) has suspended pumping of super petrol to facilitate a smooth connection of new lines through a depot owned by Hashi Energy.
Energy Permanent Secretary Patrick Nyoike said the pipeline had to halt pumping of the product on Monday to avert a crisis likely to be caused by spillage and which could trigger a fire.
He however assured that engineers at the KPC were working round the clock to ensure the situation is restored as soon as possible to avert a shortage.
“It is true that since Monday we have not been pumping super petrol to various depots, the stocks we have is for three days as of yesterday (Tuesday) so we hope to finish this exercise by tomorrow (Thursday) so we don’t get into serious shortages,” the PS told journalists when they toured the site where the line is connecting to Hashi from KPC.
“The situation as it is now is quite ok. We have not experienced shortages at all,” Nyoike added.
Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi said he had been assured by the KPC engineers that the situation would be normalised in good time.
“As you can see there are people on the site and they are doing everything possible to restore the situation,” the Minister said.
A KPC engineer authorised by the PS to brief journalists on the technical aspects of the situation said they had been carrying out the connection to the Hashi Energy depot since Sunday.
“We had done the first two connections last week and we were remaining with the line of super, and in order to carry out that exercise, some preparatory work had to be done and that involves draining the line after isolation from KPC so that no oil is flowing to the depot,” the engineer said.
“The exercise of drainage continued to Monday because there was a lot of product in the line from KPC to Hashi energy so after the welders ascertained that the amount of oil in the line was little they cut the line and when the line was cut there was some spillage to the ground and that spill meant that oil went to the ground and in order to be able to weld, they flushed with foam,” he added.
He explained that the welding could still not continue because of the amount of petrol fumes.
The engineer said they are determined to have the new lines connected to Hashi as soon as possible.
On Wednesday morning, there was panic in Lunga Lunga when a flush from an open manhole triggered fire which was quickly put out before it could spread to the neighbouring Sinai slum where more than 100 people were burnt to death in September when an oil pipeline burnt into flames.
“There were traces of oil products from one of the pipes passing under the manholes. Fire might have been caused by someone smoking or welding activities which is going on around Lunga Lunga area but it was put out within five minutes or so, there were no injuries at all,” he said.
The fire incident triggered a major response from various fire fighters including local security companies and hospitals which dispatched ambulances to the scene.
A G4S fire engine truck overturned in the vicinity as it raced to the scene, injuring the crew.