OilMin probe blames lapses by GAIL for pipeline blast in AP

OilMin probe blames lapses by GAIL for pipeline blast in AP

An Oil Ministry probe has blamed lapses by state gas utility GAIL India for the deadly pipeline blast in Andhra Pradesh that killed 22 persons in June this year.

GAIL had built the Tatipaka-Kondapalli pipeline to transport dry gas to cusomters. But instead shipped "wet" natural gas, containing water and highly inflamable condensate that corroded the line, leading to a leakage and a subsequent blast when the cloud of leaked hydrocarbons came in contact with a fire source on June 27.

An inquiry committee, headed by Joint Secretary (Refineries) Rajesh Kumar Singh, in its report said though individual culpability was difficult to establish, it appeared that inadequate systems/approach of GAIL in undertaking repeated repair of these high pressure lines was a factor in the accident.

GAIL had failed to meet its commitment to install a gas dehydration unit (GDU) at the start of the pipeline at Tatipaka to strip water and condensate from wet natural gas so as to prevent pipeline corrosion and leakage.

"GAIL has apparently flouted the declaration to the statutory authority as well as the declared design basis by not providing GDU at Tatipaka and Mori. Absence of GDU contributed to increasing the internal corrosion rate in the pipeline," the report said.

Wet gas contains free water, carbon dioxide and sulphur which induced internal corrosion in the pipeline.

The panel said the explosion, followed by a major fire, was due to leakage of condensate and gas which was probably continuing from the night before the incident. The condensate formed vapour cloud with gas pockets, and triggered a major fire when a tea vendor lighted the stove.

Besides installation of dehydration facility for removal of water and condensate prior to feeding natural gas in the pipeline, it recommended through inspection of the pipelines and putting up of leak detection system.

Also, patrolling using modern gadgets should be carried out in the pipeline route.
It also recommended that "GAIL should complete an internal enquiry of managerial failures at different levels and fix responsibility for the lapses pointed out herein."

A spark, possibly from a stove lit by a local, at 0545 hours on June 27 led to condensate and cloud of gas catching fire with a loud explosion. The fire spread over a 50-metre radius, engulfing nearby dwelling units, houses and tea stalls, killing 22 people, including three women and three children, besides injuring 38 others.

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