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KPC in another attempt to fit leak detectors on new pipeline

The 1978 commissioned old pipeline to be decommissioned by next year

In Summary
  • The tendering process and installation of detectors will be completed within the current financial year ending June 30, 2022, management says.

  • The move will enhance monitoring of fuel products along the new 450 kilometres, 20inch pipeline, that runs from Mombasa to Nairobi.
Oil tanks at Kenya Pipeline Company headquarters
Oil tanks at Kenya Pipeline Company headquarters
Image: FILE

Kenya Pipeline Company is in the process of seeking a contractor to fit leak detectors on the country's Sh48 billion new pipeline, management has said.

The tendering process, which is underway, and a possible installation of the leak system, will be completed within the current financial year ending June 30, 2022.

The move will enhance monitoring of fuel products along the 450 kilometres, 20inch pipeline, that runs from Mombasa to Nairobi.

This, as the company enters its final stages of decommissioning the old 14-inch pipeline (Line 1), which has served the country since 1978.

Leak detectors facilitate quick response in case of leakage along the pipeline.

The first attempt to secure a contractor for the job failed to materialise as submissions failed to meet the requirements and standards.

We are again going into another attempt. KPC has always been willing to have the devises so we are waiting to open and see,”said acting managing director Pius Mwendwa.

The new pipeline which came into use in July 2018 was constructed by Lebanese firm-Zakhem Construction.

It has a higher flow rate of one million litres per hour, compared to the old pipeline which could push up to 880,000 litres per hour.

There have been calls to fit detectors on the line to ensure minimal loss of product and damage to the environment in case of a leakage, which is however a rare occurrence for new lines.

The new line has a design life of up to 25 years. Pipelines however serve for more than their allocated design life.

In September last year, the Ephraim Maina chaired Senate Energy Committee called on KPC to expedite the process of fixing the leak detection system.

Petroleum Cabinet Secretary John Munyes told the committee that the procurement process was awaiting budget approvals, and the detection system would be in place in the current financial year.

It is however a long process based on procurement procedures, according to management, which notes it takes about 60 to 90 days to get through the procurement stage alone.

Meanwhile, KPC is in the final stages of clearing product in the old line which will be followed by its decommissioning and removal from the ground.

Currently, the underground pipeline is holding about 25 million litres of diesel on a 271 kilometres stretch, between Manyani and Nairobi.

The pipeline has water between Mombasa and Manyani.

The product is being pushed using water which the company has been accumulating, and currently connecting to the line supplying Mombasa with fresh water from the Mzima Springs in the Tsavo National Park, to speed up the process.

It needs about 45 million litres of water to push the diesel in the pipeline.

Once cleared and removed, the old pipeline will be scraped.

We are at the tail end of the process. Once we connect to the water pipeline and get enough supply, it will take about one month to completely finish with the line,” operations manager Martin Wanyama said.

He added: “Line one has served the country well. We have not had any fuel shortages.”

There are plans to increase the new line's flow rate to 1.8 million litres per hour which will include installation of more booster pumps along the line. This could however take up to 10 years.

This is one of the projects being conceived so that we keep up with product demand in the country and the region,” said Wanyama.

The company has a pipeline network of 1,792km, stretching from Mombasa, Nairobi, to Kisumu and Eldoret, with a total storage capacity of 884 million litres.

One of the country's stable parastatals, KPC moves products for Oil Marketing Companies at a fee, with the Kisumu and Eldoret depots also serving neighbouring countries (exports), mainly Uganda.

The new pipeline has taken about 4,705 trucks off the road according to Kipevu Oil Terminal manager Francis Kiptoo.