28 January 2015
Peruvian Pipeline Clean-up Operations
The North Peruvian Pipeline is one of the largest and most important construction projects carried out in Peru in the past century. It is 1,106 km (687 mi) long and cuts across the country’s coastal, mountain and jungle regions.
“On June 30, 2014, an oil leak was detected at 41st km of Stretch I of the pipeline. The crude oil that escaped settled in an artificial containment channel, an industrial structure built to isolate the pipeline bed from the swampy areas and the sensitive water system of the Peruvian Amazon,” says Petroperu Administration of Corporate Relationships (PACR).
The spill occurred in an area characterized by its remoteness, high levels of rainfall and difficult access. The volume of the spill was 1,604 barrels of oil, as certified by the owner.
Possible reasons and proactive actions unfold
“According to investigations by the authorities and independent technical bodies, the spill may have been caused by a deliberate perforation of the pipeline. We deployed a team of specialists from Petroperu to the site on June 30 and identified the need to install containment booms as a preventive measure to avoid the likely pollution of water bodies,” PACR notes.
The precise location of the leak was identified on July 1, the pipeline was successfully repaired and pumping was resumed twelve days later. Simultaneously, four heliports were rendered operational and environmental recovery and remediation activities commenced. Finally, as a precaution, a social management plan was activated in the town of Cuninico, which is about 12 km (7 mi) from the area of the spill.
Inspections of the area of the spill continued over the following days, and the presence of crude oil was detected among highly dense vegetation. This was caused by the movement of hydrocarbons through flow channels comprised of cracks in the ground created by tree roots, which meant new specialized work had to be scheduled in addition to the recovery activities already underway.
Partnering with soil and water remediation experts
Petroperu contracted Corena Group on account of its proven experience in providing technical environmental management services and expertise to the oil industry, as well as in the preparation, organization and response to hydrocarbon spills. ”We analyzed Corena Group’s extensive experience in the recovery of spills in marine and coastal areas, as well as in environments with jungle ecosystems similar to the area where Stretch I of the North Peruvian Pipeline is located,” PACR highlights.
“We began work in the area of the spill in August, using our technologically advanced equipment and services to restore soils and bodies of water. Our input complemented the challenging and dedicated work Petroperu had initially undertaken to recover the oil that was spilt and remove crude oil residues from the artificial containment channel. Due to our earlier commitment in the region, we had equipment and responders who were prepared to deploy and assist for immediate action to Petroperu’s request,” says Corena Group Peru’s Erick Monge.
Corena Group deployed certified technical staff from its response team and equipment for the remediation work in the area.
Remediation process in the jungle
The remediation process involved pressure washing the channel and reinforcing it with suitable materials to provide support for and contain the slopes (shoring) of the two banks, providing a means to store the sediment generated by the washing activities, as well as clearing and removing polluted jungle vegetation.
According to PACR: “The clean-up and recovery of crude oil was complemented by the recovery of the affected flora, its removal and the construction of storage points for the collected material. The final phase of the process included the installation of the EKO-GRID™ system, a proprietary technology patented for soil and water remediation.”
“The remediation process uses a system of controlled electronic pulses to speed up the processes involved in breaking down hydrocarbons, both on the ground and in water. “The technology is completely environmentally friendly as it does not require the use of chemical substances or additional artificial components, nor does it affect the flora or fauna of the area,” says Monge.
“The work and expert advice provided by Corena Group was crucial to resolving the environmental contingency caused by the leakage of crude oil from the pipeline,” PACR concludes.