Pipelines operator Transnet Pipelines (TPL) says it continues to experience theft of fuel from its petroleum pipelines, with the latest incident in the Ladysmith area on its 24-inch multiproduct pipeline transporting fuel from Durban to the Gauteng inland terminal.
The incident resulted in diesel spraying onto the N3 motorway. The emergency plan has been activated and all response teams are on site to minimise the extent of the contamination and start with the clean-up process, the organisation assured.
The quantum of the spillage has not yet been determined.
The pipeline repair will begin as soon as the area has been made safe.
The attempted theft incident has hampered product movement from the coast to the inland market area, notes TPL.
“The pipelines repair team is doing everything possible to effect the repairs in the shortest space of time. We are in discussions with our customers to manage the supply of diesel to the inland market during the repair period,” it says.
Thus far, in the current financial year, TPL has had over 90 incidents of theft and attempted theft.
The organisation notes that the costs of these incidents are significant and include the cost of product, repairs and environmental rehabilitation where the fuel theft incidents result in environmental damage.
TPL says it has implemented various action plans to address the continuing fuel theft incidents along the pipelines, some of which have yielded positive results in the past. These include collaborating with law enforcement agencies, which has led to numerous arrests, and impounding of vehicles and fuel tankers.
No arrests have been made in the latest incident.
The pipeline is classified as essential infrastructure, therefore tampering, or colluding to tamper, is a Schedule 5 offence in terms of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act.