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22 April 2014, 11:32
Two men have been arrested in connection with a major fuel theft in Hampshire.
It's thought up to 30,000 litres of fuel was stolen from a pipeline running from the Esso Fawley Refinery.
Police started investigating after a large amount of diesel was found in an industrial storage unit at West Wellow near Romsey last Thursday.
The two men have been released on bail by Hampshire Police until 10 July pending further inquiries.
The Midline pipeline was built in the 1980s and runs underground, carrying fuel through Wiltshire to the Midlands, including Birmingham International Airport.
Officials from the Environment Agency and health and safety experts have attended the crime scene to ensure the safety of the area.
An Esso spokesman confirmed that a tapping device had been found on the pipeline and efforts were being made to repair it. He said:
"A tapping device has been found on the Esso Midline pipeline that transports fuel from the Fawley Refinery, Hampshire, to Birmingham Fuel Terminal.
"The Esso Midline pipeline is secure and there has been no leak of product. The pipeline was closed as a precaution following the discovery of the fuel store.
"Esso is committed to the very highest standards of safety and our specialists are now working to remove the tapping device, and repair and test the pipeline and restore it to normal operations as soon as possible.
"Interim alternative supply arrangements are in place and we do not anticipate any impact on our retail customers.
"We continue to help Hampshire Police with their inquiries."
A Hampshire Police spokesperson said:
"We can confirm two men, aged 32 and 34 from the Salisbury area, remain in police custody for questioning this evening - Easter Monday.
"Both men were arrested in Salisbury on suspicion of conspiracy to steal fuel.
"The suspects were transferred to a police station in Hampshire.
"Police launched an investigation after a large quantity of diesel was found in an industrial storage unit at West Wellow.
"Lines of enquiry include establishing the exact amount of fuel stolen and examining the suspected sophisticated method used in this alleged theft.
"The discovery was made by the unit's owner at around 7.30pm on Thursday (17 April). It is believed to have been illegally obtained. The exact quantity and circumstances surrounding the accumulation of fuel are central to the investigation, and detectives are focussing on identifying those responsible.
"The fuel is stored safely and securely and is being retrieved by engineers from the nearby Esso refinery.
"The investigation, led by Lyndhurst CID, its still in its early stages and this is all the information we are able to release at this time."