Crude oil theft, which was once very rampant in Assam, has come down to almost nil cases in the State. This has been made possible due to the various initiatives taken by Oil India Limited (OIL). However, it is still very rampant in Bihar and West Bengal.
, Chief Manager, (Liaison and Co-ordination), OIL, stationed at the pipeline headquarters in Narengi, Guwahati, said, “Crude oil theft cases were very high in Assam during the period 2011 to 2013. Once the police took proactive action and caught all the kingpins of these rackets, it has come down to a huge extent. Moreover, the proscribed ULFA (I) blowing up pipeline cases have almost become negligible.”
He also stated that people involved in the crude oil theft business store the oil in big tankers. Many a time these tankers are caught by the police and necessary action is taken, Barua added.
BK Mishra, General Manager (GM – PLS), OIL, who is also stationed in Narengi, informed, “Hi tech methods have been adopted to detect crude oil theft, pilferage or sabotage and right now the cases are almost negligible in Assam. We have set up a master control station at our headquarters here. The master control station gives approximate location of leaks and OIL sends its team to repair the same. Cases of crude oil theft have come down and we liaise with police stations all along the pipeline. The main problem is to detect the minor leakages (due to crude oil theft) and the control room helps in this. One engineer is stationed in the control room round the clock. Alarm display (intelligent software) and shutdown capability has been installed in the master control station itself.”
Mishra further informed that the other initiatives taken by OIL are – Line Walkers – daily line walking is practiced along the Right of Way (ROW) of the pipeline. “A team of people walk eight km every day in the right of way to detect oil theft since the pipeline is laid underground,” the top official stated.
He further said that the company has also taken to helicopter patrolling – right from Duliajan to Barauni where the whole pipeline is laid – every fortnight. “The helicopter flies along the ROW at 500 ft every fortnight to scare unscrupulous elements who are involved in this crude oil theft activity. Helicopter patrolling is a very expensive affair. The other methods which we have adopted to check crude oil theft are all built-in,” Mishra added.
The pipeline unit of OIL also liaises with the State administration and the police – “We liaise with nearest police stations all along the pipeline and if a leakage happens, OIL immediately closes the nearest valves and isolates the Pipeline,” the GM further added.
Barua informed that for pipeline safety, automatic shutdown devices have been incorporated in the units itself and pressure relief valves installed at the pumping units. “RCM valves have also been installed at specific points along the cross-country pipeline for isolating purpose. Crude oil theft is a very risky business. It has to be done with precision otherwise the person involved in such nefarious activities might also lose his life. It’s extremely risky to puncture a live and flowing Pipeline operating at a high pressure,” Barua said.
The pipeline department of OIL in Guwahati transports the crude oil produced in the oil fields of Upper Assam of both OIL and ONGCL to presently four refineries – Digboi, Numaligarh, Guwahati and Bongaigaon. It is a 1,157 km pipeline passing through three States – Assam, Bengal and Bihar – and was commissioned in 1962.A 657 km Product Pipeline also transports three finished products of Numaligarh Refinery –Petrol, Diesel and Kerosene- from Numaligarh to Rangapani, near Siliguri. It was commissioned in 2009.
PILFERAGE AND THEFT ATTEMPTS
- IN 2013, 3 CASES IN BIHAR, 3 CASES IN BENGAL, NIL IN ASSAM
- IN 2014, 6 CASES IN BIHAR, 10 CASES IN BENGAL, NIL IN ASSAM
- 2015, NIL CASES IN BIHAR, 6 CASES IN BENGAL AND 1 CASE IN ASSAM (NEAR NAGAON BYPASS AND REPORTED BY POLICE TO OIL AUTHORITIES)
- 2016 (TILL DATE) – 1 CASE IN BIHAR