Posted: 06 Sep, 2017

Pipeline fuel theft is an activity with high economic, environmental and human consequences. In 2017, Costa Rica has had several pipeline incidents due to pipeline product theft events.

The most recent event was on Sunday, September 3rd in the area of Siquirres, located in the Limón province. The firefighters’ department handled a fuel spill in a pipeline of the Costa Rican Oil Refinery (RECOPE), the case is being investigated as a possible pipeline fuel theft. The pipeline is located alongside the Route 32 and is 6 inches diameter.

The product transported at that moment was Jet fuel A-1, for that reason the presence of authorities of the Ministry of Health and the National System of Areas of Conservation (Sinac) was coordinated to avoid environmental damage. The weather was favourable to prevent the spill from spreading to nearby rivers and other water resources.

In April, authorities had also found a sophisticated theft system in another pipeline own by RECOPE. The illegal tapping point was in an underground steel pipeline with 12 inches in diameter. When the authorities arrived at the site, they found gasoline leaving the ground, so they started to unbury the pipeline.

When the pipeline was exposed, a complex extraction system was found, with valve and clamps, as well as a hose that transports the stolen product to a house approximately 25 metres. Several tanks and two cisterns full of gasoline were found on a property next to the house. Regrettably, the spill contaminated the nearby terrain, killing fish, snakes and tortoises; the evacuation of near homes was needed too.

In that moment, the staff of RECOPE together with fire officials were in charge of cleaning the place and start the pipeline operation again.