The Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) was temporarily shut down because the pipeline connected to the buoy was damaged, CPC Managing Director Susantha de Silva said.
“We have halted the operations of the Sapugaskanda oil refinery for four days to repair the broken pipeline to the buoy,” he said.
He said investigations were being carried out to determine the cause of the damage and that there wouldn’t be a fuel shortage despite the breakdown. “The repairs to the pipeline may take some time,” he said.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the CPC unions said two oil tankers had been anchored for nearly thirty days as the refinery had a breakdown. “The Corporation may have to pay about 30,000 Dollars per day as late charges for anchoring,” they said.
Denying the allegation, Mr. de Silva said they had not paid any fee so far as late charges. “We will investigate it and then decide whether to pay late charges or not,” he said.
The union leaders also charged that the CPC had replaced the broken pipeline with low quality metal tubing which was only guaranteed for two years and also that the pipe line had broken again yesterday after the recent repairs.
They said the pipe line had broken down more than four times during last five years due to the use of law quality pipes. The Union suspects that the capacity of the storage tanks may be insufficient to store the crude oil from two tankers lying at anchor.
On Tuesday, the Auditor General warned of a possible fuel crisis due to the dilapidated condition of the network of pipelines which used by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.
Refined petroleum products are currently stored in tanks installed at Kolonnawa and Muthurajawela. Imported fuel is discharged from ships, docked in the Colombo Port and carried through the network of pipelines to these terminals.
The Auditor General had pointed out that the pipelines, installed some 40 to 70 years ago had deteriorated. The normal lifespan of such pipelines is only 25 years. Two pipelines have been abandoned because they were beyond repair.
There is no facility for inter-terminal transfer of fuel between Kolonnawa and Muthurajawela. Twenty seven instances of oil leakage were reported from April to November 2012. (Chatruranga Pradeep)