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Esso shuts UK pipeline after suspected fuel theft

22 April 2014

On April 21, ExxonMobil UK subsidiary Esso said it had shut one of the country's main underground fuel pipelines after police found a stash of diesel they believe was siphoned off by thieves. Police arrested two men in connection with the theft, with more than 30,000 litres of diesel allegedly involved.

Stock image
Stock image

"Lines of enquiry include establishing the exact amount of fuel stolen and examining the suspected sophisticated method used in this alleged theft," police said in a statement.

Police launched their investigation after a large quantity of diesel was found in an industrial storage unit at West Wellow, Hampshire, southern England, where the thieves are thought to have tapped into the 14-inch pipeline. A police statement said the stolen fuel was being stored safely and was being retrieved by engineers from the refinery.

The Midline Pipeline runs north from Esso's Fawley oil refinery near Southampton to a terminal in Birmingham, central England.

The company said in a statement: "Esso is committed to the very highest standards of safety. The pipeline has therefore been closed down, and our specialists are working to check it and, if necessary, effect any repair."

Esso is making alternative supply arrangements and does not expect its retail customers to be affected by the pipeline closure, a company spokesman said.

Stealing oil from pipelines is relatively rare in Britain, but the Daily Mail said a similar incident took place recently in Gloucestershire. In Nigeria, according to Reuters, theft from pipelines is estimated to cost the government up to US$1 billion per month.

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