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Kenya Pipeline to spend millions over oil leak detection blunder

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Christian Fernsby ▼ | May 15, 2019
A costly blunder during the construction of a Sh48 billion pipeline from Mombasa to Nairobi is set to bleed Kenya Pipeline Company more money after an oil spill occurred in Makueni barely a year into its operation.
Kenya Pipeline
Africa   Leak detection was not included in the design stage, which is very unfortunate
The 20-inch pipeline was designed without any leak detection systems, making it as bad as the leak-prone old one that was meant to be replaced in the new venture after frequent leakages caused massive losses of product eventually passed down to the taxpayer in pump prices.

Kenya Pipeline Corporation acting managing director Hudson Andambi termed the oversight “unfortunate” as the corporation now plans another tender to finance the installation of leak detection apparatus in the line.

“Leak detection was not included in the design stage, which is very unfortunate given that it was our second time constructing a pipeline.

That was an unnecessary and costly omission but we have budgeted for it in the next financial year.

For now, I can’t tell you how much it will cost because it will be an open tender,” Mr Andambi said.

Mr Andambi sought to downplay any adverse effects of the spill, whose real extent is yet to be determined, saying a team had been dispatched to dig trenches and control the damage which, according to him, was far away from the water spring that is the main source of water for the area.

Although the extent of the Makueni diesel spill is yet to be determined, the Water Resources Management Authority has already cautioned residents of the affected area against drinking water from the Kiboko River after it was found to be contaminated with petroleum products.

This may mean more costs to KPC, which has already contracted Swedish firm SGS to examine the extent of the spill.

With the effect on drinking water an in an area known to have a low water table, the cost burden for KPC is set to go beyond the new leak detection system tender.

The system ought to have been well envisioned in the plan to build the new pipeline since it was due to the frequent leakages of the old pipeline, commonly referred to as Line 1, that the new line, called Line 5, was built in the first place.

One such leakage, which occurred three years ago in Thange River, in the same county, bled the firm close to Sh300 million in clean-up and compensation costs alone as at last year.

The burden is still on, with area residents getting water and sometimes food supplies from KPC.