Kenya: KPC Drops Plan to Replace Part of Old, Leaking Pipeline

28 September 2020

Kenya Pipeline Company has abandoned an earlier plan to replace part of its old Mombasa-Nairobi line, which recently leaked.

The company quietly froze a tendering process that would have seen a firm contracted to replace 15 kilometres of the leakage-prone line, which ruptured again last week, spilling an unknown quantity of jet fuel and kerosene.

KPC Managing Director Macharia Irungu said the plan was halted after the company realised that it could still be served by the Sh48 billion new line launched in 2018.

"We realised it would be a waste of funds when we can still operate the new line to cover for what we would have needed the repaired pipeline for. We will come up with a better plan for the old line," Mr Ngugi said.

Natural gas

Part of the plan, he said, may involve using the line to ferry natural gas from the Coast, or cleaning it and using it for supplying water to the region.

The State agency last year invited bids for the repair of the 14-inch pipeline that was built in the 1970s after it suffered several leakages because of corrosion associated with its old age.

The company sought to replace a 15-kilometre stretch, a project that would have cost hundreds of millions of shillings given the rates used for similar projects in the recent past.

The tendering had already begun, according to insiders, with a Dutch consultant having been hired to examine the old line, and having already identified corroded sections in need of replacement.

Supplying fuel

Former KPC acting managing director Hudson Andambi, while pushing for the March 2019 tender, said the old line was still instrumental in supplying fuel from Mombasa as an alternative to the new line whenever such a need might arise.

Critics, however, found the move suspect given that data from KPC then had shown that the new line was still operating about 80 per cent of its installed flow rate of one million litres per hour. An expensive repair on the new line would potentially leave KPC with two lines running below capacity.

KPC is said to have spent close to Sh6 billion on various pumping stations on the old line, moments before it was abandoned for the new infrastructure.

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