Repair of oil pipeline in Gulf of Thailand expected to take ten days
The delicate work of plugging the ruptured submarine oil pipeline is set to begin soon, but only after all 12,000 litres of crude oil still in the pipe are removed. This will start tomorrow (Tuesday) and is expected to take about two days, according to Star Petroleum Refining (SPRC), the company responsible for the oil leaks in the Gulf of Thailand early this year.
Once the residual oil is completely removed, the repairs can begin. They are expected to take a further 10 days.
PCD Director-General Attapol Charoenchansa told Thai PBS today that SPRC must make sure that everything proceeds according to plan, especially the prevention of any leakage of oil during the repair process.
He said he had proposed, at an urgent meeting held yesterday, that a team must be deployed to record the repair work in full, as he cited the importance of the pipeline, which is a key piece of evidence and must be protected.
Attapol also said, however, that he is optimistic that SPRC will make sure that there are no further spills, adding that the whole operation will be under the close supervision of experts and done in close coordination with the PCD and other relevant agencies.
According to the repair plan, sealant will be injected into the two cracks in the pipe, to be followed by the removal of the residual oil.
Then, special adhesive material will be wrapped around the defects and tests will be conducted to make sure that they are completely sealed.
Attapol said that the process of removing residual oil from the pipeline will be closely monitored by divers and, if there is an oil leak, work will immediately be suspended.
While the repair work is to take place mostly under the sea, ten vessels are being deployed near the offshore mooring platform, equipped with booms and oil dispersant to contain any oil leaked. In case waves are higher than 1.5 metres, dispersant will be applied.
A vessel is also deployed to collect oil floating on and below the sea’s surface.