Sunday, 10 August 2014

Oil thieves steal fuel from Kent pipeline.

Thieves have reportedly stolen around 6 300 000 liters of fuel from a pipeline running through Kent, southern England. Kent Police were called by engineers from oil company ExxonMobil after engineers found a 500 m pipe attached to a pipeline connecting the Fawley Oil Refinery near Southampton to Purfleet Fuel Terminal on the Thames Estuary in Essex. The pipeline was connected near Chevening House, a grace-and-favour residence shared by the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, and is thought to have been capable of siphoning off around 30 000 liters of fuel a day, and to have been in place for up to seven months.

The approximate location of the Chevering oil siphon. Google Maps.

Oil siphoning on this scale is a new crime in the UK, though in other parts of the world it is a familiar problem, and one that brings its own unique set of problems. Fuel oils are, by their nature, extremely flammable, and pipelines used to transport them need to be both robust and airtight, to prevent any danger of the fuel being ignited. Breaching the pipeline in order to steal fuel can lead to both spills and fires, and quite often explosions, which have become a constant problem in areas where fuel is frequently stolen, Nigeria in particular having suffered a large number of fatalities linked to oil theft in recent years.

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