Okrika - The management of Port Harcourt Refining Company said on Wednesday that it had uncovered a major sabotaged pipeline at Okariama in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers state.
The company's acting Managing Director, Mr Vitalis Ugochukwu, told newsmen in Okrika that the company also uncovered another 700m pipe illegally used by vandals to siphon products from the sabotaged pipelines.
Ugochukwu decried the high rate of pipeline vandalism, especially between the refinery and the jetty, where it evacuated products through ship-loading, adding that the crime had increased in 2013.
According to him, it is almost a daily occurrence, in terms of what is lost, it is not something I can give you immediately but it is in the neighbourhood of 200- 500 cubic metres of product.
"In the recent times, we are hearing of connections of lines to the main lines; we are talking about two to three inches lines underneath our own pipelines and then extended to illegal jetties," Ugochukwu said.
He said that the negative effect of the pipeline vandalism in the effectiveness of the company could not be over-emphasised.
Ugochukwu said that vandalism delayed loading getting to the jetty for ship-loading and if the ship was delayed for 24 hours, demurrage would be paid by the company.
He said the cost of repairs on the pipelines was high while the repair job was very risky to the company since most times the vandalism happened in the creeks.
Ugochukwu said the major concern of the company was the encroachment on the pipeline right of way as any fire on any of the pipeline would burn the whole community.
In his contribution, the company’s Manager, Public Affairs, Mr Ralph Ugwu, appealed to the government to assist in clearing the pipeline right of way to avoid fire.
Ugwu also said that the encroachment on the right of way made surveillance of the pipelines very difficult.
Conducting newsmen round the vandalised pipelines, the company’s Deputy Manager, Security Services, Mr Jimmy Udofia, explained that the vandals skilfully dug holes on the kerosene (AGO) and petrol (premium motor spirit, PMS) pipes.
Udofia said they fixed a valve on each of pipelines using a rubber pipe to connect the line to another pipe they laid underneath.
He said the rubber pipe was used to siphon any of the products from the pipelines to about 700m into a river where they loaded their boats with the product.