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RDA green lights new aviation fuel pipeline along Colombo-Katunayake Expressway

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 4 October 2017 00:00


  • Gives approval for pipeline after extensive negotiations
  • Safety concerns raised by RDA to be addressed in new design
  • Project completion date pushed back by one year


By Chathuri Dissanayake 

The redesigned underground pipeline to transport aviation fuel from the Muthurajawela storage facility to the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) along the Katunayake Expressway has received approval from the Road Development Authority (RDA), which had earlier opposed the project citing safety reasons.

“After much negotiations and discussions we were finally able to come to an agreement. They agreed on principle after we explained that this has been done in other countries as well. There are fuel corridors similar to the proposed design in other countries,” Petroleum Resources Development Ministry Secretary Upali Marasinghe told Daily FT.

The approval is however conditional to obtaining a combined technical report including all safety precautions. 

The technical report is to be prepared within three months, while the Bill of Quantities (BOQ) will also require revision to accommodate changes in the design.

Around 1.6 million litres of Jet A-1 fuel is now transported to BIA by rail daily. When the consumption rises to about 1.8 million litres, Ceylon Petroleum Cooperation (CPC) resorts to transporting the fuel by road tankers. However, CPC has already said that it will not be able to transport the forecasted demand beyond 2020. The BIA expansion is expected to give rise to a much larger quantity of aviation fuel demand reaching 2.4 million litres in 2023 and 3.5 litres in 2030.

The construction of the JET A-1 fuel pipeline which was approved by the Cabinet in March was originally designed to go along the B 152, Nugape-Bopitiya road, B 425 and A3 road, stretching to 23.3 km. It was initially designed to be placed under the carriageway of the public roads. The approximate depth of the pipeline is 1.2 m. This would have required extensive excavation which would have caused a lot of disturbance to the public, Marasinghe said. Further, the construction time would take longer due to the complicated design involving bends and turns in the line.

The new one, which is shorter in length at 19.8 km and which the ministry hopes will result in a reduction in the construction cost of $ 2-3 million, will also require smaller capacity transfer pumps and drivers. This could result in a cost reduction of around $ 2-$ 3 million. Further, the line operation will consume less power with an approximate saving of 548 kwh per day taking the operating time of the pumps as 10 hours a day.

“The cost will be less due to easier design, however, we have to keep in mind the added safety features we may have to include, so the construction cost may increase on that front,” Marasinghe said.

The change in design will also delay the overall project as well. The project was initially aimed to be completed by 2018 ahead of the planned expansion at the Bandaranaike Airport. However, the project will now be delayed by about an year, with technical evaluation taking three months, revision of BOQ another two months and the bidding process another six months, Marasinghe explained.

However, he said that the original design would have caused much longer delays due to the required excavation and public disturbances caused.

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