By Perfecto T. Raymundo
MANILA, June 18 (PNA) — The Supreme Court (SC) has allowed the reopening of the more than 40-year old White Oil Pipeline (WOPL), a 117-kilometer pipeline that used to transport fuel products from Batangas province to the Pandacan oil depot in Manila subject to several conditions.
The WOPL, which was being operated by the First Philippine Industrial Corp. (FPIC), was ordered closed after a leak was discovered in May 2010 upon the complaints of residents of West Tower Condominium.
Prior to its closure, the pipeline supplied more than 50 percent of the petroleum products for the oil depot in Pandacan, Manila, which is considered as the largest and most important depot in the Philippines.
The depot supplies to 459 fuel dealers in Metro Manila and about 1,800 gas stations in Regions 1 to 4.
In the same year of 2010, the residents of West Tower Condominium Corp. filed a writ of kalikasan petition in behalf of the West Tower residents and the surrounding areas in Barangay Bangkal, Makati City.
The SC then issued a writ and a temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) ordering, among others, the checking of the structural integrity of the WOPL and required FPIC to submit a certification from the Department of Energy (DOE) that the WOPL is safe for commercial use.
In 2013, the West Tower said that the DOE was incapable of determining the structural integrity of the WOPL.
In a ruling made public on Thursday, the SC ordered the DOE to strictly oversee the implementation of the test run of the entire stretch of the WOPL which will be conducted by the FPIC.
Some of the preparations to the test run include gas testing along the right-of-way using the monitoring wells or boreholes, inspection of right-of-way and observation of gas testing, setting up of additional boreholes, among others.
On the actual test-run, FPIC should perform among others, the cleaning pig run and witness the launching and receiving of the intelligent and cleaning pigs.
Cleaning pigs are necessary for the maintenance of pipeline infrastructure.
It is used to remove dirt or general construction debris that may have been left during the construction.
It is necessary for a more efficient flow of product, and to control corrosion.
The FPIC shall also demonstrate and observe the various pressure and leakage test such as the “blocked-in pressure test” while all openings of the WOPL are blocked or closed off and the “in-operation test” or the hourly monitoring of pressure rating after the pipeline and continued inspection of the gas flow from the boreholes.
The DOE was required to do an onsite inspection of the pipeline, observe the running operation of the intelligent and cleaning pigs and check the instruments used for the actual test run.
After the test, the DOE is tasked to determine if the WOPL is safe for commercial operations.
Once the WOPL is reopened, the DOE has been tasked by the SC to continue the implementation of the Pipeline Integrity Management System (PIMS) by conducting daily patrols on the entire stretch of the WOPL every two hours, periodic testing and auditing of the pipeline’s mass input against mass output.
Likewise, the SC ordered the FPIC to continue the remediation, rehabilitation and restoration of the affected environment in Barangay Bangkal, Makati City and to acquire the necessary permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The SC also ordered the Makati City government to submit to the DENR the remediation plan. (PNA)