All oil products are transported in a single line at intervals or in batches. The task of ensuring that the products are not contaminated is of great essence. To ensure this, the Company has a Quality Control section whose role is to guarantee quality assurance of all products transported through the pipeline.
There are different sources of petroleum products contamination, which the company must guard against. The company has well equipped laboratories backed by qualified staff whose responsibility is to carry out quality analysis of the received products. In this regard, KPC has over the years, managed to demonstrate its ability to deliver quality petroleum products that conform to National and International specifications.
KPC has its own Quality Control Laboratories at entry and delivery points, and has also constructed an ultra-modern laboratory at Mombasa, which has been contracted to an independent operator to achieve the desired independence. The laboratories use international (American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM) and (Institute of Petroleum (IP) standards in testing the products for different quality characteristics.
To ensure that different products are not contaminated, the following is done; samples drawn from the ship are tested by KPC and Oil Marketing Company’s (OMC’s) appointed surveyor to confirm conformance to relevant specifications. Products are only accepted for discharge if results indicate conformance to specifications. Further parallel testing is done after transfer into the storage tanks at Kipevu Oil Storage Facility (KOSF) to confirm that the quality of the products has been maintained after transfer. Products originating from Kenya Petroleum Refineries Ltd. (KPRL) are subjected to parallel testing between KPC and KPRL before acceptance by KPC. At the different stages of testing certificates of quality are produced to serve as evidence of conformance to specifications.
Pipeline is compacted and operated at high pressure. The high pressure ensures that products flow as a solid and minimizes interface growth. (Interface is the inter-section where different products grade come into contact with one another). Product movement is monitored using run sheets and its density used as a major parameter for determining the location of each product grade in the pipeline.
The knowledge of flow rates and the expected time of arrival (ETA) of the batches help in interface monitoring. Interfaces are then monitored based on density at interface monitoring area within the tank farm. Interfaces are classified as either critical or non-critical. i.e. Critical - when it is between a distillate and a spirit, e.g. Automotive Gas Oil/Motor Spirit Premium (AGO/MSP). Non-critical is when it is between a distillate and a distillate (AGO, Illuminating Kerosene (IK)) or spirit and spirit e.g. MSP/MSR. Critical interfaces are directed into designated slop tanks depending on the level of contamination. No interfacing is allowed between Jet A-1 and AGO or spirits.
Re-certification testing is done on petroleum products at the receiving stations before issuing the products back to the OMCs.KPC participates in Inter-laboratory Cross Check program on testing of Jet A-1 coordinated by ASTM to benchmark with other laboratories across the world.
In its effort to exceed customer requirements, the Quality Control section is preparing for compliance to ISO/IEC 17025 standard requirements and later will seek accreditation to the standard to enhance quality assurance on petroleum products.