The Colombian government has granted a patent for a device to remove illegal valves from the oil pipelines of state-run petroleum company Ecopetrol.
According to an Ecopetrol press release, the “tool for the safe removal of valves installed in fluid pipelines” was granted and the company now has a total of 30 approved patents of which 24 are currently in force.
Owing to the increase in the theft of Ecopetrol fuel at the end of the 1990s it was necessary to create a series of mechanisms to reduce or control the physical and chemical risks to which maintenance personnel were exposed to during the removal of illegal valves.
According to a report by the Comptroller General, Ecopetrol lost $11 million in 2010 due to the theft of petroleum – an average loss of 369 barrels a day.
The aim of the tool is to prevent possible leakages during the removal of illegal valves as well as to reduce downtime of the pipelines and associated repair costs.
Two similar products were the subject of a patent by the Nigerian government in 2010. This is the seventh patent granted to Ecopetrol in the last two years and the the third in Colombia in 2011.