Five dead in fire at Indonesia oil pipeline, output unaffected

JAKARTA Wed Oct 3, 2012 9:04am EDT

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JAKARTA (Reuters) - Five people died when a crude oil pipeline caught fire as it was being looted in Indonesia's Sumatra island early on Wednesday but production was not affected, state energy company Pertamina EP said.

Eighteen people suffered burn injuries in the fire, which was brought under control by midday. Pertamina said it was investigating the incident and that PVC pipe, which is evidence of theft, was found at the scene.

"Our Tempino-Plaju pipeline caught fire at 1006 .... It did not catch fire because the pipe exploded but our pipe was being tapped illegally. Oil was being stolen by the community. Someone was smoking there and it caught fire," Pertamina EP public relations manager Agus Amperianto told Reuters.

Losses from looting have increased since mid-2012 and amounted to 29,000 barrels in September alone, Pertamina said, adding that nearly 250,000 barrels have been stolen since May.

Production was not affected and the pipeline should be operational by Thursday, Amperianto said.

(Reporting by Fergus Jensen; editing by Matthew Bigg and James Jukwey)

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