Laying pipelines becomes a whole lot trickier

Vol 21, PW 1 (05 Oct 17) People & Policy

Keeping thousands of kilometres of pipeline safe from oil thieves or terrorists is a stressful job, which is why the government has decided to avoid doing it and has shifted the responsibility to oil companies.

However oil companies are not so happy about this little reported development and are protesting loudly. Under the newly gazetted Oil Mines Regulations 2017 (issued under The Mines Act, 1952) on August 14 the entire responsibility for pipeline security such as armed patrols is moved from the state to oil companies in Chapter 7 under the heading 'Transport by Pipeline.' "Security should be the government's responsibility," complains an Oil India manager in charge of pipelines.

"I've been to Bangladesh and the pipelines are full of warning signposts. Security is so good no one dares go near the pipelines." He adds that in Canada and Kenya the government takes stringent action to protect pipelines.

In Kenya ,state security forces even have a shoot-to-kill policy for anyone going near the Mombasa to Nairobi oil pipeline, claims our source. "But in India all responsibility has been transferred to us yet our security people have no right to take action," we hear.

"This means they can question suspects but have no power to make arrests or take preventative action. Complaints must be passed to local police." Oil India adds that a few years ago it employed 'line-walkers' or patrolmen to secure pipelines because the state government wasn't doing enough.

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