Oil pipelines in dilapidated condition : Delays in repairs, a cause for concern | Sunday Observer

Oil pipelines in dilapidated condition : Delays in repairs, a cause for concern

A delay in repairs to a 12-inch diameter pipeline carrying oil from the Colombo Harbour to the storage facilities of the Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Limited (CPSTL), in Kolonnawa, due to issues in the bidding process, may create another supply crisis, highly placed sources within the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) claimed.

The lowest bidder has run into technical issues in setting out their pricing in the bid document and later on at the tender discussions, the bidder has asked for a price increase thereby paving the way for the second bidder to be selected, according to the sources.

Chairman of the CPC, Dhammika Ranatunga told the Sunday Observer that the bidding process is beyond his control and currently it is being handled by the Cabinet Appointed Procurement Committee (CAPC).

However, emphasising the need to speed up the repair work, he said the CPC has given a deadline to complete the repair work by March 31, 2018.

Convener of the Petroleum Joint Union Alliance, D. J. Rajakaruna said that the 10-inch pipeline currently used to carry oil springs leaks from time to time.

“The 10-inch pipe that we are currently using is leaking and last week too we attended to a leak,” he said.

The repair work is being carried out by the CPC itself. However, there are some portions where the pipeline goes under roads and other constructions.

These sections need to be outsourced to a party that has the ability to carry out the work.

At present, one pipeline is being used for white oil, i.e. petrol and diesel. One carries fuel directly to the Kelanithissa power plant while another pipeline has been completely abandoned due to its dilapidated condition.

“We had scheduled to shut down the refinery for maintenance. Ideally, the refinery should be serviced every two years. Last year we couldn’t complete it. Now the refinery has not been serviced for the past three years,” Rajakaruna said.

According to the unions, if the refinery is shut down without completing the repairs on the pipeline, the country will face a fuel crisis, as the fuel can only to transferred at a low speed due to the dilapidated condition of the pipeline.

Speaking on the conditions of the pipelines and infrastructure, CPC Chairman Dhammika Ranatunga said that although pipes are in working condition they are aged.

“One is almost 80-years-old and when you get to this stage, obviously the risk factor is high. Not enough attention has been shown to these problems over a period of time. Every year there is a six percent increase in oil requirement and we have not upgraded the refinery to cater to that demand and nor have we upgraded the infrastructure facilities,” he said, adding that there is a good chance that if a couple of shipments are cancelled there could be a shortage of oil and it is important that we address these issues.

“We recently awarded a tender to build storage tanks. By 2018, there will be six more tanks totalling up to about a 64,000 metric tonnes capacity at Kolonawwa, CPSTL terminal. On top of that, we are working on this pipeline. The deadline I have given them is March 31,” he said. 

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