Hot Tapping

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News article

Hot Tapping

June 2015

hot tapping

Within the Fisher German Utilities and Infrastructure sector, approximately 1450km of refined fuel pipelines are managed on behalf of corporate clients across the country. Fisher German has successfully retained these management contracts for over 30 years and as a result has extensive knowledge in the field. 

Management of the pipelines involves the physical maintenance out on the ground by a dedicated team of 25 pipeline technicians who you may see travelling along the pipeline routes in branded Fisher German vans. There is also a team of land agents and support staff who deal with the day to day management from the office and in the field. 

More recently, however, the team's knowledge has been put to the test following a series of illegal thefts directly from our clients’ pipelines. This is obviously extremely dangerous with the pipelines running at up to 100bar (1500psi) in pressure. A range of techniques are being used but any attempt represents a significant chance of fuel leaking from the pipeline, which can pose a risk of explosion and significant environmental consequences. 

Even a small leak can contaminate the surrounding land, which not only takes a lot of resources to clear up but can also cause years of disturbance and inconvenience to land and property owners, as well as to the local community. 

The criminals are fitting specially designed equipment onto the pipelines using a technique known as 'hot tapping'. They then run high pressure hoses to locations that are easily accessible, where they fill modified vehicles with fuel. These hoses can run for hundreds of metres so the main area of activity may not be near the pipeline. The images above show how the hoses can be laid under or over the surface of the ground to avoid detection. On most occasions these hoses will fill tanks, usually Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) in vehicles, directly from the pipeline but on others they have stored product in tanks that are either buried or situated in buildings or land which is being rented or illegally occupied. 

There have been a variety of ways in which these hot taps have been discovered, which can vary from specialist pipeline monitoring technology to a member of the general public discovering it while walking their dog. As soon as Fisher German have been made aware of these incidents, an emergency response procedure is followed to ensure the pipeline is repaired as quickly and safely as possible to protect both people and the environment.

Fisher German is working closely with the pipeline operators to raise awareness of this issue to ensure that any new theft sites are identified as soon as possible to ensure that the pipelines can be operated safely. Should you identify any suspicious activity around a fuel pipeline it is essential that you call the 24 hour emergency telephone number that is printed on all pipeline marker posts. The pipeline operator can then co-ordinate a quick and effective response.

For further information contact Sam Parton 01530 410867 email sam.parton@fishergerman.co.uk

 

Click here to find out more about the work of our Utilities and Infrastructure sector.

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