Design protects EACOP from possible risks – PAU

As oil and gas development progresses in Uganda, experts in the industry say a number of measures have been instituted to protect the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP from any possible risks.

Mr Naboth Mugyerwa, the Manager Pipelines in the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), says during the design of the EACOP, a risk assessment was carried out to ensure mitigation of identified threats.

He says to protect the EACOP from threats, a wall thickness assessment was carried to ensure that the pipeline can withstand both internal and external pressure arising from its operations and any chemical composition to which it be subjected.

“The pipeline wall thickness is varied depending on the areas that it traverses. In environmentally sensitive areas, the pipeline wall is made thicker for extra strength to eliminate the possibility of failure,” Mr Mugyerwa says. 

He adds that the pipeline will be coated with fusion bonded to epoxy to guard against external corrosion or deterioration during lifetime, buried up to one metre below the surface in its length and it depth will be increased to 1.5 metres in locations where it crosses critical sensitive areas like roads, rivers and wetlands.

Leak detection systems including Real Time Transient Model (RTTM) and fiber optic will be installed to detect any smallest possible spillage and relaying the information to the operator and government in real time.

Mr Mugyerwa says the EACOP will be installed with 76 block valves to ensure that they sufficiently isolate any leak section of the pipeline in case of failure.

Ms Dozith Abeinomugisha, the Director Midstream in the PAU, says in addition to wall thickness, the pipeline will be coated with a thick layer of concrete slab at the wetland crossings to ensure it always remains below the ground and provide additional protection from external impacts that may otherwise damage the pipeline.

“The EACOP is designed to use Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) for the crossing of major rivers. The pipeline will, therefore, be below the riverbed and not in contact with water. The smaller rivers will be crossed with pipeline concrete slabbing,” she discloses.

Polished roads will be crossed by boring under the road so that the traffic flow is not impacted while slabs will be installed at the crossings of gravel roads that are earmarked for upgrading to tarmac in future.

“To protect the pipeline from external damage, a fiber optic cable with intrusion detection capabilities will be installed along the pipeline to provide a warning to the operators and government in case there is any excavation attempt with the right of way. A warning tape will be laid within the pipeline trench to notify any person accidentally attempting to excavate within the right of way,” Ms Abeinomugisha says.

At seismically active areas, Ms Abeinomugisha says a steel grade more ductile to withstand earth movements will be used while to minimise greenhouse gas emissions, the EACOP will be powered by hydro electricity from the national grid in Uganda and a solarisation project has been inbuilt into the project in Tanzania.

The 1,443km long EACOP with 296km in Uganda will run from Kabaale village in Kabaale sub-county, Hoima district to the Changoleani peninsular near Tanzania’s northeastern port of Tanga where it will cover 1,147km.

This will deliver crude oil discovered in Hoima, Kikuube, Buliisa and Nwoya districts that lie in the Albertine Graben in Uganda to international markets through a Marine Storage Terminal (MST) at Tanga in Tanzania.

The EACOP will be the world’s longest heated pipeline. It will be heated because Uganda’s oil is waxy contrary to that which is sweet, thus, easily flows inside the pipeline.

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