The Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) is still unaware of the cause of the oil spill in Kiboko, Makueni County, Petroleum and Mining Cabinet Secretary John Munyes has said.
Mr Munyes said this when he faced the Senate’s Energy committee on Wednesday alongside the KPC’s Acting Managing Director Hudson Andambi.
The minister told the committee chaired by Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina that the company was yet to determine the exact cause of the spillage, 75 days after it occurred.
Mr Munyes’ report came amid plans for taxpayers to spend more millions to procure new leak detectors for the new pipeline.
Taxpayers spent Sh48 billion on the construction of the new pipeline, which has been in operation for about a year without the detectors.
The CS, however, told the committee that the KPC was in the tail end of procurement of the detectors.
Without disclosing the exact cost of the new system, Mr Munyes said they had listed all the specifications and were about to start the procurement process.
“We want to get it right this time round … It will cost taxpayers a lot of money,” he said.
The CS further told the senators that the KPC was, in the meantime, using an electronic device along the entire line to check for weak areas that could lead to leakages, a process called inline inspection.
Mr Munyes was hard-pressed to explain why the new line did not have leak detection systems.
“The leakage would not have happened on our new pipeline if there were a detector. This committee wants to know whether these pipelines were inspected before being launched,” Senator Maina said.
He added, “A detector would have saved this country because oil leakages start with sweating, which can easily be noticed if detectors are available.”
The pipeline was designed without any leak detection systems, making it as bad as the leak-prone old one that was to be replaced after frequent cases of massive oil losses.
Mr Andambi explained to the senators that leak detection was not included in the design stage but that the KPC was on the verge of acquiring new detectors.
The acting MD failed to tell the committee the amount taxpayers lost as a result of the spill, saying they were still reconciling the numbers ahead of the release of a report in July.
He said that so far, the KPC had collected 551,000 litres of oil from the affected area.
“We will look at what was dispatched from Mombasa and what we will have collected from the spill-area at the end of recovery time before [establishing] the actual loss,” Mr Andabi said.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo faulted the KPC for neglecting people affected by the spillage.
“The KPC has to provide the people of Makueni with water … it still believes the water in the area is not polluted by the oil,” he said.
“You have caused residents to look for water which they were getting freely previously. You are killing the children of Makueni … I hope God will forgive you,” he told the company.
Although KPC technicians have repaired the pipeline and dug trenches around the affected area, underground water has been contaminated with oil.