A high-tech gadget (I-pig) helped the Panipat based Indian Oil Corporation’s Oil (IOC) refinery to detect pilferage from an underground oil pipeline at Begumpur village near Gharaunda in the district on Tuesday.
Refinery officials told Hindustan Times that a gang of specialists operating with high precision tools managed to drill a hole and fix a valve in the underground Mathura-Delhi Ambala-Jalandhar (MDAJ) oil pipeline.
IOC sources said that for the past few weeks, the pressure inside the underground supply pipeline had been affected.
But pilferage was confirmed on Monday afternoon and a team of experts visited Begumpura village on Tuesday morning to locate the exact point.
The unidentified accused had dug about 400-metre tunnel to siphon off the petroleum products through a pipeline.
The IOC pipeline was linked underneath to a non-functional dhabha and it is suspected that the accused were collecting the pilfered products through a pipe at the dhabha and selling it illegally.
The authorities have found an exhaust fan, electric bulb, rope and few digging tools inside the tunnel and earth on the spot was removed.
The dhabha owner is reportedly missing since Tuesday morning.
The matter was reported to Karnal police and senior officials, including IOC executive director (northern pipeline division) RK Samtani, rushed to see the elaborate arrangements for the oil theft.
IOC chief manager, corporate communications, N Shivakumar told HT that the pipeline was carrying refined petrol and diesel and it was highly unlikely that the perpetrators could have pilfered a large amount of the product.
However, he said that it was for the first time that petroleum products were being stolen by digging a long tunnel to conceal the theft.
“As petroleum products travel on very high pressure and it is impossible to manage the velocity and steal the products in large quantity. But the accused may have certainly been able to steal small quantities of refined petroleum products,” said Shivakumar.
He said that the theft was detected by I-pig, a round shape gadget that runs inside the pipeline for detecting the internal health of the pipelines.
“This gadget is also used to clear impurities for smooth travelling of petroleum products. As I-pig contains a camera, technical experts can take full assessment of pipeline and specific point where it is punctured,” said the spokesman.
Meanwhile, district superintendent of police Pankaj Nain said that a case was registered against unknown persons and investigations were on.