07 December 2013, News Wires – China has launched a nationwide investigation into the safety of its oil and gas pipelines after last month’s deadly pipeline blast in the eastern port city of Qingdao that claimed 62 lives.
The State Production Safety Committee branch of the governmental State Administration of Work Safety is to focus on identifying any “hidden dangers” in the pipeline network.
The wide-ranging inquiry, to be completed by March next year, will seek to pinpoint areas where preventative and risk control measures are not strong enough, the safety body said.
The committee also noted Chinese premier Xi Jinping’s call for the industry to “draw deep lessons” from the tragedy in Shandong Province.
The explosion at the Sinopec-owned Dongying-Huangdao II pipeline is believed to have been caused by oil leaking into city drainage facilities, according to a preliminary investigation, Reuters said.
The 22 November explosion on the pipeline, which links oil depots in Huangdao to petrochemical plants in Weifang city, killed 62 people and led to the hospitalisation of at least 136 people.
The incident also caused an oil spill covering 10,000 square metres at Jiaozhou Bay, and led to the temporary closure of both Huangdao port and two Sinopec refineries.
The blast also ripped up roads, overturning scores of cars as well as shattering windows of many nearby buildings.
Nine officials have been arrested in the wake of the tragedy, including seven Sinopec executives.
As Upstream reported last month, municipal officials have already decided to relocate the damaged section of the pipeline further away from residential areas into an area already designated for chemical production.