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Economy

DCI to probe missing leakage alarm in Sh48bn pipeline

 Pavel Oimeke
Energy Regulatory Commission director -general Pavel Oimeke. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The energy regulator has directed the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to investigate the Kenya Pipeline Company’s (KPC) failure to install a leak detector on the new Mombasa-Nairobi pipeline resulting in leakages.

Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) further directed the DCI to take legal action against the KPC staff and contractor found culpable of professional negligence.

The KPC dropped plans to install a leak detector from the approved design of Sh48 billion pipeline that has been hit with leakages less than a year after launch.

“We’ve written to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations requesting for comprehensive investigations on failure by KPC to install a leak detection system on Line 5,” Pavel Oimeke, Epra director-general told MPs last week.

A letter to the KPC and its executives to give reasons why they should not face punishment over the illegal design changes is yet to get a response.

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The warning letter by the Epra followed a series of leaks and theft of fuel through illegal taps on the 14-inch 450-kilometre oil pipeline.

Mr Oimeke accused the KPC of failing to install a digital pipeline leak detection system contrary to the initial design described in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report submitted to the Epra and National Environment Management Authority.

The system was envisioned to pick up leaks in case of pipeline intrusion or raptures due to corrosion in minutes and short sections of the pipeline in seconds.

Last week, the Senate Committee on Energy directed the Epra to take stern action on KPC for failure to install the leak detection system on the pipeline despite it being part of the EIA report.

The committee further directed the regulator to recommend to the DCI the prosecution of four KPC general managers in charge of infrastructure who oversaw the construction of the pipeline, KPC’s local and foreign contractors and the contractor, Zakhem International.

Penalties include a fine of not less than Sh10 million or a term of imprisonment of not less than five years or both.

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