Operation of a key oil pipeline in Sichuan Province was suspended at 1 p.m. on Tuesday for safety concerns, but the suspension won't hamper oil supply to the quake zone, PetroChina officials told Xinhua.
The pipeline, which runs on a Lanzhou-Chengdu-Chongqing course, halted operations as drainage efforts in the Tangjiashan quake lake area speeded up, according to the company.
Drainage of the lake was expected to speed up to 7,000 cubic meters per second at 2 p.m. Tuesday, exceeding the maximum 6,620 cubic meters per second that the pipeline can withstand, said manager of the pipeline Du Jingshui.
The pipeline is 60 km downstream from the quake lake, but as the water from the lake flows downstream, pressure on the pipeline will increase.
The sales manager of PetroChina's Sichuan branch, Jiang Humin, told Xinhua that supplies to the area will not be affected, since reserves stood at 294,000 tons as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, adequate for 20 days.
Jiang said the company diverted 515,000 tons of oil products to Sichuan in May, 110,000 more than in previous months. Only 460,000 tons were consumed, 60,000 tons less than before.
Oil consumption will rebound to normal level in June as reconstruction goes into full swing, Jiang said.
Another 502,000 tons of oil will be sent to Sichuan this month and the total supply will reach 557,000 tons, which is definitely sufficient to meet demand, Jiang said.
The pipeline, which connects the oil-producing northwestern Lanzhou with Chengdu and Chongqing, is the only channel transferring oil to the southwest region of China, with a yearly capacity exceeding 6 million tons.
(Xinhua News Agency June 11, 2008)