Senate report says KPC should have had better leak detection on Line V pipeline

In Summary

• Senators said KPC failed to instal Detection System on Line V that could have prevented the spillage.

• The report confirmed that the Kiboko Springs had not been contaminated by the leakage from the nine-month-old pipeline

A crowd gathers around an inspection trench sunk by Kenya Pipeline Company to check the spread of oil following a leak.
HOPE FOR COMPENSATION: A crowd gathers around an inspection trench sunk by Kenya Pipeline Company to check the spread of oil following a leak.
Image: FILE

The Energy Committee report into an oil spill at Kiboko in March 2019 will be tabled in the Senate in the next session.

The report of the nine-member committee chaired by Senator Ephraim Maina is now with the Clerk to the Senate.

The leak from the Kenya Pipeline Line 1 occurred around March 30, 2019, just 400 metres from Kiboko Springs in Makueni. The underground pipe was damaged by a rock when it was being laid by Lebanese firm Zakhem International nine months earlier.


“A rock was found within the soft pudding (red soil) used to protect the pipeline,” the report states.

   By July 2019, KPC had removed 194,000 litres from the area but Kiboko Springs was apparently not contaminated.

Maina’s panel probed the incident following a petition by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr who warned that residents could be using polluted water following the spillage.

The Senate committee said KPC failed to install a Leak Detection System on the Sh48 billion Line V and to properly monitor the installed Impressed Current Cathodic Protection System which could have detected the leak.

The Sh48 billion Line V started operation in July 2018 and runs for 450km parallel the 40-year old Line I.

"The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority should take stern action against KPC for failure to instal the Leak Detection System on line V, despite it being part of the Environmental Impact Assessment report that was submitted in the application for a construction permit,” the report states. The committee also asked the EACC and DCI to investigate.

On Monday, KPC chairman John Ngumi said, "I can't possibly comment on a report I have not seen."


  In May, the Water Resources Authority issued a precautionary notice advising the public not to use Kiboko water but that notice was lifted on November 14 when the WRA advised that "the water resources of Kiboko springs of Kiboko River are free from oil and grease".

Extensive analysis by the University of Nairobi and Bureau Veritas S.A. "produced nil results for oil and grease" in Kiboko Springs, according to the report.

The senators asked KPC to compensate Kiboko residents but it appears that the spill was confined to a 10-acre farm owned by a Mr Mutiso. Locals have been hoping for compensation.

The report said KPC should continue supplying water bowsers to Kiboko residents and to provide a medical camp to check residents who feel they might have been affected by the spill.

 KPC's corrosion engineering department is still conducting a survey to determine the cause of the leak on the new Sh48 billion pipeline.

“The dent when the pipe was being laid in the ground could have interfered with the coating and whenever this happens, corrosion happens so fast,” an engineer who sought anonymity told the Star.

“KPC should expedite the environmental cleanup, remediation and restoration of the ecosystem and continue to mob up and recover the pollutant petroleum product from the underground environment,” the Senate report says.

KPC engineers are implementing a seven-point action plan in environmental restoration of the site. KPC is now in the final stage of bioremediation which is the use of naturally occurring microorganisms to break down environmental pollutants.